Random Inspirations

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5 Writing Lessons Learned from Watching the VMAs

on August 25, 2014

Last night, Antonio and I watched the VMAs. I adore these awards shows, not only for the elaborate performances and the glamour, but, of course, for the intrigues, conflicts, and awesome surprises!


This year’s VMAs were fun to watch, and, naturally, they inspired me to write this blog post. I believe that the various forms of the arts (music, drama, literature, and visual arts) influence each other, and there are many lessons we writers can learn from the VMAs. Here are five:

  1. Sex Sells – Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” performance raised some eyebrows, with the steamy twerking and blatantly sexual costumes. In fact, parts of the routine were totally inappropriate for the large population of pre-teen viewers. But let’s face it: There’s no denying the fact that sex sells. This is the same reason that, in literature, erotica books are best sellers. I’m not advocating switching your genre to erotica if you normally write clean romances, but I’m also not judging the artists who inject a healthy dose of sex into their books or music. As a YA writer, I like to keep my books clean and uplifting, but sexy art makes the world go round. 😉
  2. Conflict Equals Drama –  Speaking of Nicki Minaj, according to several articles, the “beef” between Nicki and Iggy Azalea is over. Last night, Iggy reportedly told Nicki backstage that she did great, and Nicki said “Thank you, baby.” But Iggy’s face during Nicki’s performances seemed to tell a different story. I don’t know about anyone else, but I saw a little conflict there, and I felt like the camera people were honing in on it. And why not? After all, conflict equals drama. It hooks viewers, and in literature, it keeps readers entertained and drives the story until the end. Creating rivalries and conflicts is so essential to writing that the great teachers continually emphasize the importance of “torturing the characters.” So don’t be afraid to torture yours!
  3. When in Doubt, Add a Little Humor – The announcers at the VMAs were so funny; I found myself giggling on and off the entire time. Just as the humor balanced out the performances, wardrobe malfunctions, and little dramas, adding some “comic relief” to our writing can provide readers with much-needed reprieves from the heavier stuff.
  4. A Lot of Work Goes into a Polished Product – The VMA performers had months of rehearsals, not to mention hours of prep-time to look and feel their best on the actual day. Just as they had to work hard to make it look easy, so must we writers. Multiple drafts, professional editing, beta readers, and constant practice allow us to present our most polished products every time!
  5. Don’t be Afraid to Deviate from Your Genre–But Know When to Stick to It – I was a bit underwhelmed by Taylor Swift’s performance last night, in part because she has deviated so far from her original image as country-inspired girl with guitar. True, the artistic process is all about evolution, but fans expect some consistency as well. Taylor did not seem entirely confident with her overblown routine, and looked fairly awkward during some of the more demanding dance moves. While I give her props for evolving, I also feel as though she may have deviated too far from her genre for comfort. The same is true in writing. Many times, we find ourselves pigeon-holed into a genre that we may never have expected. I, for example, would never have guessed that I would write eleven Amazon best sellers–and counting–in the YA Amish Romance genre! And while I’m excited to try out a new genre, YA Mermaid Romances, I will continue to keep the Amish writing alive, since that is what many of my fans have come to expect and anticipate.

Writers out there, did you watch the VMAs last night? If so, did you learn any interesting lessons? I’d love to hear your random reflections!

2 responses to “5 Writing Lessons Learned from Watching the VMAs

  1. This is so interesting! Never thought of that. I write for theparisreviewblog.com, so I love seeing how we can learn about writing from modern day!

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