Friday, October 2, 2009

Writers Should Watch Wrestling

There's a few things writers should do. One of the most obvious is reading. A writer should read everything his or her grubby little hands come across -- from comic books to classics, from Wikipedia to harlequin romance novels, poetry to prose. I can imagine there's quite a few writers, today and yesteryear, that have only rarely ever read. For me that seems to minimize their potential range insofar as subject, style and approach/technique is concerned. A writer should read the works of others to discover what works, why it works; what doesn't work and why it doesn't work. Also, it impossible, in my mind, to be everywhere at once doing everything and thereby learning through experience. If we held true to the old adage of "write what you know", then how the hell are all these science fiction writers writing about alien races and space travel? Of course, you could make the argument that alien races and space travel symbolize matters the writer does understand and know via firsthand experience. I get that. But it doesn't validate the phrase for me. So we're left with trying to experience life on our own and to supplement it through reading materials. R.E. Howard loved reading histories and look at the classic icons he spawned in his short career.

Writers should also watch movies and shows, even the bad ones. We should learn from the bad ones as much as from the good ones.

Anthropology and mythology are also good subjects to study.

Finally, writers should watch wrestling. The business of professional wrestling is all about selling drama. The wrestlers themselves have to push aside differences or similarities and create drama that enthralls an audience, maintaining drama through a match. Without the drama, viewers at home tend to switch the channel. If there's no drama and no viewers, there's no revenue from commercials because sponsors won't purchase air time if nobody's watching. Without drama wrestlers won't sell merchandise. Every aspect about wrestling is about selling drama, about reaching out and tearing out the guts of the audience to keep them hostage and coming back next week for more. Disney, an icon in the United States in marketing efficiency, would love to have the kind of program running that professional wrestling does.

I recently read Eric Bischoff's book Controversy Creates Cash. Within it he details his formula for his success as SARSA, an acronym standing for Story, Anticipation, Reality, Surprise and Action. He said if you have just a few of these elements within a storyline, you can get by for a few weeks on the story. If you have four, you're really cookin'. But if you have all five elements, you've got gold.

I also finished Ric Flair's book To Be the Man. His approach to entertaining an audience is solid, old school, basic and effective. He is an in-ring general of the finest kind and knows what it takes to create drama in the ring and out of it.

Wrestlers are masters of drama.

Writers should definitely watch wrestling.

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