For writers, inspiration can come from any and every facet of life, including their surroundings, the people they interact with on a daily basis and sources of entertainment. Although there are many movies that follow the lives of individuals trying to make it in the journalistic or publishing world, many of them tend to paint a perfect picture, tying up conclusions in a bow. Something that I learned in an introduction to creative writing course is that this is not always the case, and sometimes it’s perfectly fine to leave some questions unanswered. For that reason, certain television shows tend to provide a better source of inspiration for aspiring writers, not only through their storylines, but also through the ways in which the shows are written. So, writers, grab a notebook and a pen and see what you can learn from these television shows.
1. “Jane the Virgin”
Written in a manner similar to a telenovela (or a Spanish-language soap opera), much of what makes “Jane the Virgin” a resource for writers comes from its unique structure. The way in which the narration is written, and spoken, presents the audience with even more information to keep them hooked on the show. Although the actual way in which the show is written is important, Jane as a character is where many aspiring writers can pull lessons from.
While much of the series thus far has dealt with Jane’s love life—mainly her relationships with Michael, Rafael and now Adam—it is her journey to become a novelist that is something many can learn from. In the earlier seasons of the show, Jane worked hard to create her master’s thesis, working with two separate advisors and taking all their notes into consideration when making revisions. One of Jane’s largest challenges with this was the fact that her thesis was a romance novel and the advisor she worked with was a feminist professor that didn’t necessarily believe in romance. As a result, Jane learned how to work with someone who may not have shared her ideals, while sticking to her guns the whole way through, which is something many writers can learn from.
In the most recent season of “Jane the Virgin,” which takes place years after the death of Jane’s husband, Michael, Jane’s novel gets published. The novel, “Snow Falling,” is a piece in which the setting is in the early 1900s but is a loose retelling of Jane’s time with Michael. After countless back-and-forth’s with her editor, something all writers are bound to go through before seeing their work take shape, Jane’s dream of becoming a published writer turns into a reality. Once again, the show reminds viewers to never give up, constantly pursue their creative vision and follow through with their projects. Another example many can learn from Jane is how to turn grief into success just as she turned her experiences with Michael into a work of art after his death.
2. “The Bold Type”
A recent show on Freeform whose future still hangs in the balance, “The Bold Type” follows three women working for “Scarlet,” a magazine reminiscent of “Cosmopolitan.” One of the women, a twenty-something named Jane, works as a writer for the magazine after years of working as an assistant. In the beginning, Jane’s article pitches get shot down and her editor-in-chief, Jacqueline, even assigns pieces that lie far outside of Jane’s comfort zone. Over the course of the first—and as of now only—season, Jane grows as a writer, realizing who she is and who she wants to be, even if becoming that version of herself means leaving “Scarlet” for a different publication.
In the world of journalism, a writer isn’t always going to be able to write about what he or she wants 100 percent of the time. Being a writer, especially within the magazine industry, is all about rolling with the punches and understanding that you may not always get your way. This is something that Jane learns from Jacqueline on many occasions, as Jacqueline almost takes her under her wing, challenging Jane for what lies ahead in her career. Although it may not seem like it at the time, rejection can be a good thing. Not every single pitch a writer throws out into the open is going to be received well, which means returning to drawing board. This is just a fact of working in the industry, but every rejection a writer faces pushes him or her to work even harder to reach their dreams. Jane deals with this breed of rejection over the course of the season and, although she might seem to lose hope at times, she powers through, eventually being given the opportunity to write about the topics she wants. Many writers could stand to learn from Jane’s never-give-up mentality.
There are so many topics touched upon in “Younger,” it’s difficult to choose only a few things audiences could take from the show. The series follows Liza, a recently divorced mother who makes the decision to get back into the publishing industry after her only child is off at college. While looking for jobs at different publishing houses, Liza faced ageism and decided to pretend to be a 26-year-old, after which she does end up landing a job with Empirical Publishing. I’m not saying that you should lie about your age or your qualifications to get a job because that’s something that will come back to bite you in some way. What I am saying is although a dream can seem unreachable, you should never stop trying to make it happen.
Although Liza is the main character of the show, it is Kelsey Peters who could teach up-and-comers in the publishing industry some valuable lessons. In the most recent seasons, Kelsey was given the opportunity to create her own imprint within Empirical Publishing. Along with Liza, Kelsey created Millennial Publishing, though not without facing many obstacles. One of the difficulties with beginning an imprint, as put forth in the show, is finding authors interested in writing with you. Not many writers, for good reasons, would want to sign with a new label; it’s up to Kelsey to bring in writers to keep the imprint going. Kelsey’s persistence, especially when faced with a love interest from a rival publishing house who uses their relationship to steal one of Millennial’s authors, never wavers throughout the show. She has taken every obstacle thrown her way and surpassed it—something all millennials could stand to learn from.
Just as in “Jane the Virgin,” the Empirical Publishing world of “Younger” gives some insight on a writer’s journey of creating a novel to seeing the final product being published. In this case, however, it’s the perspective of the publishing house which gets put on display. Writers don’t fall into a publishing house’s lap; there are piles and piles of manuscripts to be read before a good one stands out. Finding a promising novel is only the beginning, with many revisions and discussions happening along the way to its publication. “Younger” does a great job of showcasing this journey, pointing to the fact in which sometimes compromises must be made on both ends of the situation so no one person’s integrity or vision gets lost. Compromise is a natural part of life, especially within this industry, so it is important to understand sometimes changes have to be made in order for a writer’s dreams to come true.