As a student of writing, I’m constantly on the lookout for good quality work. Most of the time when we think of good quality writing we think of the classics like Shakespeare, Chaucer, or Milton. Similarly we also think good writing comes from novels and/or plays; forms that are generally thought of as a little highbrow and difficult to connect with. However, good writing can also come from film, television and even comic books.
I’ve read a lot of classics from Homer’s The Iliad to Beowulf to Paradise Lost. From Edgar Allen Poe to Bram Stoker. They’re all great if you want to learn story structure and expand your vocabulary and I highly recommend you start at the beginning. On the other hand, I’ve also read and watched things that were recommended to me with the thought that I’d like them, but alas poor Yorick I did not. They just didn’t do it for me. Breaking Bad, for example, which is consistently rated as one of the best television series’ of all time. I couldn’t get through the second episode. Don’t get me wrong, it was an interesting premise, but just not my thing. Just the other day I got caught up in a twitter debate about how “great” The Expanse is. Is it? I found the characters boring, and the dialogue weak. I muddled my way through the first season and don’t plan on continuing. How it got renewed for a third season is beyond me. I simply cannot watch anything produced by the SyFy channel. Can anyone tell me why everything looks blue on that show? Ender’s Game was another recommendation. This was one experience where I rather enjoyed the movie more than the book. No. Just no.
The theory is that I like science fiction. Everyone knows my love of Star Wars. The thing is Star Wars isn’t science fiction. I’m not a fan of any specific genre. I like what’s written well. Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and Preacher (the comic not the show, please…not the show), are all very different. This is how I can tell if I really like something; I cannot physically put it down or turn it off. It’s impossible And if I can remember what I’m reading, that’s a sign. The best part of good writing for me is the dialogue. Which any writer, no matter their skill level, will tell you is the most difficult to get right. Garth Ennis, the writer for Preacher gets the dialogue down so perfectly, with speech inflection and all like nobody’s business. Yes, it may take a couple readings to get through a speech bubble, but it pays off later on when you realize it becomes part of the character and their development.
What I like about GoT and HoC is not only the dialogue, but the delivery of it by the actors. It’s quick, yet forceful. It’s serious but not overly dramatic. The multilayered storylines give both shows an extra level of intrigue. This made me realize my own novel is way too simple (editors note: Eric is in the process of writing his first book).
Another show I respect, but am not completely enthralled with is Avatar: The Last Airbender, and The Legend of Korra to an even lesser extent. I know it’s blasphemy to not love these shows. I really like them, and love how the story and characters develop. I think it’s because it’s animated, which doesn’t make sense at all because I love Star Wars Clone Wars and Rebels.
I had just caught up with Saga, the comic series written by award winning comic writer Brian K. Vaughan. I’ll say this; it’s definitely original, which is a big plus in my book. It’s well written, but didn’t pull me in as much as Preacher did. I’m also reading his other series, Paper Girls which is also very original. Y: The Last Man, from what I read is really good too! I’ll stay with both for now. A few more examples of good writing came from a recommended comic called Wytches by Scott Snyder. Wow! If you like creepy comics, in the vein of Stephen King, I cannot recommend this one enough. I read the entire trade in one sitting, something I never do. Lastly, Transmetroplitan and Planetary also came recommended, both written by Warren Ellis. I’m excited to dive into those!
I’m all ears for more recommendations. I can’t guarantee I’ll like it, but I’m willing to try. Movies, books, or comics!
@EricOnkenhout or @WritingEric