Elizabeth: What Should I Watch Next?

Spring is just a few days away, though you wouldn’t know it from the recent snowfall blanketing our east coast.  Writing contest season is also in full swing, which means I’ve been spending more time judging other peoples’ writing than focusing on my own these past few weeks.

It’s an interesting experience.

For this year’s Golden Hart, I’m just finishing up a set of “inspirational” entries.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but they’ve mostly been “sweet” contemporary stories (no sex and occasional God references).  Definitely different from the paranormal entries that I judged previously, but it has, as always, been a learning experience.  It seems far easier to recognize what is not working in someone else’s story than it is in mine.  Using the information in Nancy’s recent post on conflict-locks last week, I tried to create a conflict box for each of the stories I read.  No surprise that the stories I enjoyed the most / rated the highest were those that had a clear conflict lock.  It’s a good reminder to me to take a close look at my own stories and make sure I have the conflict locked down.

As soon as I finish the last few contest entries, it is back to writing for me.  Naturally that means I need to watch some television first.

Wait, what?

Everyone has their own writing routine – whether it’s a special writing spot, a soundtrack or playlist, or maybe a specific writing time.  After a great deal of trial and error my routine has turned out to involve late nights, good coffee, and some television viewing to get me in the right frame of mind (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).

While reading contest entries has been a nice change of pace, I need to get my mind back into my story world.  Since I’ll be working on my Cassie & Nicolai mystery story that means I want to immerse myself in clues and investigations, along with a heavy dose of humor and snappy dialogue.  Television shows and movies are a great way for me to do that.  Although did recently pull out the cozy-mysteries from my TBR pile and power through them, seeing actors on screen is often more helpful for me.  If nothing else, it keeps me from getting distracted by the writer’s voice or style.

All of which brings me to the reason for today’s post.

I need help.

I’ve already watched my way through His Girl Friday (for the snappy dialogue), Midsomer Murders, Miss Fisher Mysteries, and Death in Paradise (for the mysteries), and even Valentine’s Day (for the romantic humor), but my viewing queue is running low.

What would you recommend I watch in order to get in the (light-hearted) mystery-writing frame of mind?

My empty queue awaits.

6 thoughts on “Elizabeth: What Should I Watch Next?

  1. I like Miss Marple, especially “Murder at the Gallop” and “The Murder at the Vicarage.”

    If you like Cary Grant and snappy dialog, “Charade” might be a good one to watch. And the whole “Thin Man” series with William Powell and Myrna Loye is worth the time.

    Also, I often forget to check who the screen writer is, but Leigh Brackett was one of the writers of the tougher, smarter ‘Hawksian Woman’ and I really like what she did with the humor of “Rio Bravo” (standard western, sheriff falls for a card shark) and “Hatari!” (African wild game collector falls in love with zoo’s photographer) but “The Big Sleep” or “The Long Goodbye” may best fit your viewing needs by being more in the noir/ mystery genre.

    I feel like most of the movies I’d mention are going to be older. The comedy-mystery movie boomed in the 40s. I found this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_comedy%E2%80%93mystery_films looking for a more modern recommendation. I will say “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is a good one, though it lacks the romantic leanings or the more restrained language.

    • I just watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang this week—it’s been in my Netflix queue forever—and I enjoyed it a lot. Very clever. I like all your other suggestions also, Flo—it looks like we have the same taste in movies! For TV, Elizabeth, have you tried Leverage? That’s a lighter caper series with romance threaded in.

      • Kay, no, I haven’t watched Leverage yet, but others have recommended it before and I know Jenny did a series of posts on it a while back over at Argh Ink.

    • Great suggestions Flo. Charade for the dialog sounds perfect, and I’ve been meaning to watch the Thin Man series for ages.

  2. Totally not in the genre you’re looking for, but I’ve been binge-watching This is Us to pass the time while I’m going through radiation treatments (twice daily and they leave me a little tired). The writing is excellent, with very snappy dialogue, especially between Kate and Toby.

    Partly I’m fascinated because it breaks the cardinal rule of “no backstory.” Each episode hops back and forth between the parents’ timeline and the timelines of their triplets. The stories are standalone, but the older timeline is also, unquestionably, backstory for the later timeline.

    And partly I’m fascinated by the character of Jack. I’ve watched 14 episodes, and so far he’s as close to a perfect husband/father as could exist in this world. His universe revolves around his family, he makes sacrifices for them (like selling his prized Chevelle to come up with a down-payment for a house and staying up all night to bedazzle gloves for a Madonna-themed birthday party for his daughter). He’s clearly attracted to his wife, even when she’s seven-and-a-half months pregnant with triplets and looks like the Hindenburg. Interested to see if they make him more real (the other characters are a lot more flawed, though still very likeable) or leave him on his pedestal.

    • I’m not familiar with This is Us. I’ll have to check that one out; sounds promising. Love the image of the father bedazzling gloves.

      Also, glad you’ve found something to pass the time during treatments (and hope they are going well).

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