I have a secret. I binge watch tv. I very seldom share my television watching habits with friends and family, knowing that many of my friends view binging on tv programs or watching a day of movies as a waste of time. Also, there is the…” Nothing is worth watching on tv anymore. It’s all junk.” To avoid criticism, I watch in secret, almost in secret, as my husband knows.
Soap operas were introduced to me at an early age. My mother always watched the 11:00 a.m. soaps which at that time were Love of Life and at 11:30, Search for Tomorrow. I was hooked on Love of Life, Guiding Light, As the World Turns and General Hospital, later also including The Young and The Restless. DVRs were eventually invented, so I didn’t miss my soaps and having to rely on Soap Opera magazines to keep me up to date. A few years back I suffered an illness and out of boredom expanded my repertoire to crime shows.
Once we dropped cable and began to stream on Hulu, Netflix and all the other zillions of channels, I rejoiced that I had so many choices of watching pleasure on demand. Whatever mood I was in, I could find a program to match my mood.
Then COVID-19 hibernation began. I found Billions as a new show and then old series I had never seen such as House, Nurse Jackie, 24, and Criminal Minds. Currently I am watching CSI from the beginning, just starting season three. I binge watch and hibernate in my house cocoon with no questions as to what I am doing all day besides writing.
There begs the question: Why have I always loved TV so much that I can sit for hours, according to some, wasting my time? I think I found the answer. I am a writer. When I watch a program not only do I enjoy it, but I’m always analyzing its characters and its story. Binge watching a series for me is like reading a book from the first chapter to the last. Each episode is a chapter in a book.
I make an exception with my soap operas. I rewrite episodes in my mind and have this desire to change their storylines. I have watched since the beginning and history is important in a soap. It seems some of these youngster writers don’t get that. Whoops! I let my irrational dream of writing a soap opera out of the recesses of my mind and shared another secret with you.
When I watch a crime show, I don’t necessarily focus on the crime but the plot, and also the characters’ reactions to the mystery and each other. The reason I keep watching isn’t so much about the episode as to the way the characters develop over the years. I begin to care about the characters. When Criminal Minds ended this year, I was sad. I would miss Reed and JJ, Emily and David and the others that formed their family. Most of all, I would miss Penelope Garcia. Of all the shows I watch, I feel she was my favorite. Her reactions, her kind heart, and her fierce loyalty to those she loved resonated with me. The connection she had to Derek Morgan made me feel as if a part of her was missing when he no longer was there, and I was sad with her. I could relate to her feelings.
Whether it is a television show or a book, great characters that make a watcher or reader feel their pain, joys and life, are the backbone of a script or a novel.
When an author writes a series, the writer may take their time revealing a character’s background from book to book. For instance, Hermiony Vidalia Criony Fiddlestadt, in my Fuchsia Series, comes across as a cranky, forgetful old woman in the first book. There is so much more to her. Who was she before she acquired these characteristics in her old age? Was she always like this, or had life circumstances altered her over the years? When readers find out more about what makes her tick, will they come to understand and love her anyway with all her faults?
The Whistle Stop Series takes less time to introduce character traits and background for the main character, Angel Delaight. The other characters, however, will develop over the series. It will be interesting to observe which style my readers prefer.
Watching crime shows wasn’t in my wheelhouse ten years ago. That’s why I am so behind. There were 15 seasons of Criminal Minds. I am in my third season of CSI with, I think, 12 seasons left. The reason it took me so long to find them was because the commercials for the shows were a little gory and I am not into gore, although I love thrillers too when I chose my reading material. Here is another secret… I close my eyes to anything gory on the shows. It is the characters and the stories that I love, but not the gore. The same can be said for the thrillers I read.
My friend, Jan, who is gracing the halls of heaven right now, used to whiteout swear words in the books she read. It didn’t stop her from reading them, she just whited out the words she felt were not necessary to the story. I guess I do the same thing when I watch the crime shows.
I do wonder when I watch some grittier stories about what is inside of a person that they can write such graphic interpretations. Is there an evil which lurks inside of us? I know the authors of some of these gritty tales, and they are the nicest people you could meet. Where does the line between reality and fiction meet, and is there ever a possibility the line could be crossed by everyone in real life?
I have been tempted to try my hand at writing a blood shedding mystery. An idea pops up in my mind and quickly I shut it down. I don’t know that I could go there. If I did, would I ever be able to shed the blood and guts and toss it off for sweet cozies again?
Stay tuned. I don’t know the answer, but who knows what lurks hidden between the surface, waiting for the right moment for the fine line to be broken and crossed.
One person who comments on today’s blog will win an ebook copy of A Small Town Can Be #Murder.