Our family has just finished an intense period. We need a little breathing space. Perhaps you do, too? We’ve spent the last few Sunday and Monday evenings, sitting on the couch, eyes glued to the television, watching Lego Masters, a reality tv show where eight pairs of contestants followed a brief to build lego in order to win the title of Lego Masters. Dinner and dishes were completed before the show started, the ad breaks were spent discussing the merits and failings of each build and Mr 10 started to use Brickman’s (the judge’s) lego lexicon. It’s intense, I tell you.
Imagine if there was a reality tv show for writers? Each piece from the contestants would be read out – a lone writer standing behind his/her words in front of a solitary microphone. Can you see the response from the live crowd and the publisher judges?
The show would surely have to include a background look around the final contestants’ favourite writing environment. Perhaps a study, a kitchen table or a cafe? Plus there’d be an in-depth interview about literary influences, beginning with Beatrix Potter, Enid Blyton, Linley Dodds or Mem Fox perhaps?
Think about the potential for television tension when:
- contestant no. 5 reads out a harrowing account of a murder, the inciting incident for her crime novel
- contestant no. 3 performs a spoken poetry piece as if she’s in a slam contest which has the audience up on their feet, punching their fists in the air
- contestant no. 11 can barely hold it together as he reads a memoir of his family’s journey from poverty to riches
- contestant no. 8 makes the judges laugh with an amusing picture book story, complete with funny voices
- contestant no. 16 reads, almost acts out, a steamy love scene from her romance book so hot the audience start fanning themselves with their programs.
Imagine the judges’ comments – ‘your writing transported me back to medieval France and took me away from this tv studio’. Or, ‘after hearing you read your literary novel on a dystopian world where there were no supermarkets, I wanted to read more’. Maybe, ‘I would love to work with you to help develop your voice in your essay collection about collecting spoons’.
What of the judges’ post-show, supposedly off-camera discussions?
- I define his work as young adult, not middle-grade.
- Contestant no. 2’s piece shone with originality.
- Contestant no. 9 uses an omniscient narrator perfectly.
- Contestant no. 6 really needs to prune back her writing.
- Contestant no. 9 should change her novel from third person to first person.
- Contestant no. 6 should devote more page time to develop her characters.
- Contestant no. 2 let us down with her latest piece – it’s not up to her usual standard.
- His work could only be appreciated by middle-grade readers.
The reality is, that writing is often a solitary art, and a writer typing furiously into a laptop or handwriting messily into a notebook, debating internally whether her character feels adored or admired, would be about as exciting as colour-coding lego blocks or practising vocal scales or whipping cream.
Channel 9, let me know, I’m ready!