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The Writer’s Well Episode 179: How Can We Apply Binge-Watching to Our Writing?

Today, Rachael talks to Priscilla Oliveras about why we binge-watch television and what it can do for our writing! 

PRISCILLA OLIVERAS is a USA Today bestselling author and 2018 RWA® RITA® double finalist who writes contemporary romance with a Latinx flavor. She and her work have earned praise from the Washington Post, New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Redbook, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, amongst others. Priscilla earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University and currently serves as adjunct faculty in the program and teaches the online class “Romance Writing” for ed2go. While she’s a devotee of the romance genre, Priscilla also considers herself a sports fan, beach lover, and Zumba aficionado, who often practices the art of napping in her backyard hammock.

Oprah’s Beach Read  list:

Binge-watching articles:

Kdrama list, in order of Priscilla’s preference

Crash Landing on You (Hyun Bin, lead actor, *swoony sigh*) (also, great romantic soundtrack on YouTube)

Cinderella and Four Knights (hero has some moving Declaration lines, spunky heroine) (good soundtrack, too)

Romance is a Bonus Book (older heroine with spunk)

My Secret Romance 

Something in the Rain (liked the hero, not sure the heroine did enough to deserve him, good soundtrack)

Memories of Alhambra (a bit sci-fi-ish, Hyun Bin, needed a little more romance)

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14 thoughts on “The Writer’s Well Episode 179: How Can We Apply Binge-Watching to Our Writing?”

  1. Morning girls. Great question today.
    Binge watching hasn’t sucked me in. The nearest I ever came is I once recorded 6 different versions of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” over a period of months and watched them all one Saturday. Lovely wifey Denise nearly phoned for the men in white coats.
    I am thinking of binge-watching “Game of Thrones,” because I have never watched an episode. Maybe a series a day for eight days straight.
    If I didn’t have a TV it wouldn’t bother me.
    To answer your question, next year I am planning to write some Gothic Romance so I look out for films and TV that may help or influence me. But mostly I am reading novels for research. Recommendations gratefully accepted.
    The problem with TV and film for us writers is they are designed for short attention spans; when they are based on a novel a lot of the story is left out. As writers we should be careful they don’t change our idea of what a story is.
    Great show today.

  2. How wonderful to find Priscilla guest hosting! Congrats on the Oprah beach read pick.

    I think people binge watch for the same reason we fall into any series, whether it’s books, movies or TV shows. You find the characters you like who get involved in interesting stories and off you go. With the binge watch you also don’t have to wait for “next week,” “next month” or “next year.” I think we all know of readers who will wait to start a series until they know it’s done so they can start and take it all in.

    Will and I also play the game that Priscilla mentioned with “there’s a turn,” “there’s the midpoint,” “there’s the…”

    I will slightly disagree with Christopher about not letting TV and film change our idea of what story is. When you’re dealing with well-crafted TV or movies, there can be things to analyze and take away. There’s some very smart storytelling out there. I think it’s why J and Zach breakdown the movie or TV show every month. Plus, it’s critical to be aware of how stories are told across as mediums to be aware of what’s working for audiences. Not everything, of course, should make its way into a book but there are things to learn from TV and movies and then adapt.

    1. I agree with you Jeff.
      My point, not well made, is that when writers discuss story, their go-to medium is almost always TV and film. I get that, because “everyone” has seen Star Wars or Harry Potter etc. so it is easy, although I think lazy, to talk about film, when we are talking about storytelling for writing novels.
      If you hear a novelist discuss the filming of their story, one of the most common themes is the fact that TV and film is a different medium and they must accept that, or, as some do, they have a hissy fit about why the scriptwriter has left half the scenes and characters out. Well worth reading to see a discussion of this, is “Which Lie did I Tell” by William Goldman where he relates how film scripts are controlled by accountants, not storytellers.
      I guess my point is; yes film and TV can be brilliantly crafted but it is not, and cannot be, the same medium as a novel and therefore there are different skills involved. As novel writers we would be very poor if we believed all our story craft could come from TV and film, no matter how well-written they are.
      So I agree with you, but I’m saying read novels and analyse novels and talk about novels because we can only learn so much from TV and film. We are novelists and while accepting that a film deal is the ultimate dream for some, we are writing a novel not a film-script. I highly recommend Goldman’s book.

  3. I have been binge watching Miss Marple – there’s no cops; if there are police they are bumbling fools who defer to the nice old lady, the casts are always excellent, and the clothes and houses are glorious.
    I do find myself rereading comfort reads – I managed to read Sunshine by Robin McKinley twice in a month. I only meant to read the first chapter again…
    Kid 3 adores K dramas and has posters of all the pretty Kpop boy bands as well. The show my tumblr peeps are all fangirling over is The Untamed. good lord *fans self*
    Although with my adhd mind, sometimes I find reading subtitles too much effort.
    My house loved Killing Eve too. s3 is back on form.
    I reckon that being aware of how stories should be plotted/work allows me to understand why I didn’t like something. For example, I was watching Jonathon creek s5 – they showed viewers HOW the incident happened before he had solved the mystery – suspense gone. But I only got that a few hours later. ‘oh THAT’S what went wrong.’

  4. I am more of a binge reader than a binge watcher, but I can get behind the idea of treating each chapter as an episode. What I REALLY want to figure out is how I can sit down and write the same way that I can sit down and binge. That would be the golden ticket for productivity.

  5. My schedule makes binge-watching almost impossible and I’m too cheap to spring for any of the streaming channels after giving Netflix a try and discovering how poor the search function is. Even when we do get a marathon day on the regular cable we have I tend to spend more time away from the TV than in front of it as other tasks attract my attention. I don’t even binge-read a series. One of my biggest pleasures in coming to the next book in a series is saying hello to old friends after a time apart.

  6. There has to be a compelling story or great characters (or both) to get me to binge. A couple years ago, I watched the first season of Jessica Jones in one day. I was freaking terrified and David Tennant as Killgrave, the villain of season 1, is the stuff of nightmares but I was so sucked in!! I’m waiting for the 2nd season of “Mr. Iglasias” which is a Netflix series staring one of my favorite comedians. He’s a high school history teacher and it’s a really cute show and another that I watched a whole season in a day.
    So, this is something to consider when we’re writing. How can we grab the reader’s attention so they won’t want to put the book down?

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