I believe a truly creative person can draw inspiration from anything. You don’t need to wait for a special occasion, mood, or situation to paint, write, or do something creative: you just need to pay attention to the world around you and seek to notice small details. Or you can make use of whatever other people have already created—why not? Creative people do this often. I am not talking about plagiarizing, but about developing, interpreting, and deepening the ideas of other people, infiltrating them through your outlook in order to get something unique—something that will fuel someone else’s creativity.
Even a TV—such a trivial and seemingly useless thing—can be a source of inspiration. Especially some of the TV shows: they can be surprisingly good. I thought about this while re-watching the first season of X-files the other day: after finishing another episode, I suddenly got an idea for a new short story. So, here I am, writing that story, and composing this short list of good TV shows during a coffee break.
I chose TV shows that refer to a wide variety of topics, styles, and genres (except comedy, because almost all of them are only about gags, in my opinion).
Just remember the main question you need to ask yourself, the Main Question of a Writer, when watching TV shows: “What if?”
- The X-files
Well, since I prefer writing thriller stories and detective stories, this TV show is a source of brilliant ideas for me. When I watch an interesting episode, I start imagining other ways things could have developed, “modify” characters and situations, try to look at things from a different perspective—and, as a result, I get an almost complete draft of a story.
- Game of Thrones
Yeah, I know that many people might find it offensive, explicit (try watching Borgia then), and violent. But what I pay attention to is how the storylines of different characters turn out to be intertwined, and how small choices can sometimes lead to implicit but great consequences. This TV show is an encyclopedia of storytelling. You should read the original novel, even if you are not a fan of fantasy fiction—but the TV show will do too.
- Babylon 5
Grandiose science fiction. Space opera. Epicness. These words describe Babylon 5 rather accurately, I suppose, so there is no point in saying anything else about it. Watch this TV show if you are looking for Big Ideas.
- True Detective (season 1)
Characters. This is what should be paid attention to when watching this TV show, in my opinion. Background stories, personalities (as in real life, no 100% good or bad people), dialog, motivation, passions—this TV show, although being a detective story, is about people and the way it shows these people is inspiring.
- Pride and Prejudice (1998)
If you want to learn how to write about romantic relationships, if you seek to describe the process of falling in love, Pride and Prejudice is your choice.
P.S. In all of these TV shows, it is not the show itself that is inspiring, but rather the atmospheres they subtly generate: conspiracy and sinister government secrets; the grandiosity of the Universe; dark secrets of the past, and so on. Try drawing ideas from this atmosphere, not the stories, and you will succeed.
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