• Jessica Sherry

Expand Your Entertainment for Writing Prompts

If you're looking for ideas to start or supercharge your story, then read, watch, or listen to something you wouldn't normally enjoy. Or maybe something you'd never, ever, ever pick.

I know, I know. We all have our comforts in entertainment. Mysteries are my go-to in books, shows, and movies. We love our genre-comfort-blankets.

BUT SNAP OUT OF IT. When we're stuck, searching for THE idea that'll get us started or transform our tangled ramblings into something cohesive, inspiration can spring from the most unusual places. Branching out with your entertainment creates a mental mood for new ideas.

For example...

I generally HATE reality shows. Ugh. But as a joke, really, and for lack of anything new and interesting to watch (Thank you, Covid-19), I started season nine of Married at First Sight on Netflix. I cringe, telling you that. The only reason I picked it was because the season took place in Charlotte, NC--close to home. If nothing else, I thought I might enjoy the familiar scenery.

Well, we got hooked. You can learn a lot about people (and your characters) from watching reality shows. I not only enjoyed the different personality types, but also how they meshed together. Conflict. Romance. Drama. Comedy. There were all those things--all ingredients for a good story, too.

So, it also gave me story ideas (of course, right?).

  • Like, a story about a reality TV star who must reassimilate into the real world after humiliating himself on TV.

  • Or like, a couple finding love on TV only for it to vanish when the cameras are off.

  • Or like, the reality TV asshole who ruins any chance for love, respect, and happiness because, well, everyone knows he's an asshole.

  • Or like, a story about how putting oneself in the spotlight could draw both good and bad attention. An obsessed fan. An old boyfriend/girlfriend. An applicant who didn't make the cut. There are soooo many ways reality TV could turn into a real-life mystery or horror show or murder.

  • Or perhaps, like a reality show's consulting psychiatrist who breaks all the rules by falling in love with a contestant. Or stalking. Or murdering.

Geez, these ideas are sounding more and more like Lifetime movies... which is fine. *shrug*

Even if you can't get a full-fledged plot out of it, you can at least get a few lessons on human nature, even the made-for-TV version, to develop your own characters.

Or you can step out of your genre-boxes to experience something abnormal for you. If you typically like romances, read a sci-fi. If you generally don't get into educational TV, watch a documentary. If you usually don't read scary stories, try some Stephen King (that's me right now, and I'm enjoying him). Get out of your genre-comfort-zone to inspire new thoughts and ideas for your stories and characters.

What are you watching, reading, or listening to that's inspired new ideas? Please, tell me! Need good entertainment. Yikes!

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