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What If They Made a Reality TV Show Out of Writing Competitions?

Podcast Audio Link: Click here.

Podcast Transcript: Hi, genuine writers! This is Innovative Editing’s Jeannette DiLouie welcoming you to episode #21 of The Genuine Writer Podcast. We keep things short, sweet and to the point here so that you can learn what you need to learn and get back to writing already.

Today’s episode – which is kinda hard to classify in a mere soundbite – is sponsored by something that’s a whole lot easier to sum up: Maiden America, a historical fiction novel about what it was really like to live in December 1776. It’s a reality that might seriously surprise you. Maiden America – and its two sequels – are filled with daring damsels, spy networks, cunning villains and plenty of action, all carefully crafted around research that blew its author’s mind more than once. Let’s see if it does the same thing to you.

I really don’t know how to transition between such fascinating historical facts and what I’m going to bring up next, so I’m just going to go for it and hope you keep listening anyway. So yeah… The Bachelorette. That’s right, I’m going to discuss ABC’s ridiculous reality show instead of focusing on important or at least slightly intellectual writing-related topics. Though not for the whole episode. Don’t worry. I actually do have a point in bringing up this bit of bemusement.

I really do find the whole concept bewildering, particularly when there’s been what? Like 29 seasons of The Bachelor and 15 seasons of The Bachelorette? Not to mention however many Bachelor Pads there were. I have no clue, and I don’t feel like looking it up. And before I get too far into bashing the insanity that is all three, I’ll admit that I’ve watched three whole seasons altogether. One of each, actually. No idea which ones I watched except for that blond chick. What was her name. Emily? And I’m watching The Bachelorette this season as well. The one with Hannah. Who is a train wreck.

Then again, they all are. Every single one of them, boy or girl, rose giver or accepter or reject. They’re all one giant train wreck.

First off, what kind of person quits his or her job for three-months or altogether in order to compete with dozens of other people for someone’s hand in possible marriage? There are so many things wrong with that, from quitting your job for someone you’ve never even met to making someone of either gender think they’re worth sticking around for while they give you the time of day they feel like and the time of day a bunch of producers allow – all while smooching 12 to 25 other people at any time. And how about thinking that it’s a good idea to agree to marry someone after knowing them for only three months, where you may or may not have gone on all of 12 dates with them, some of those being group dates.

Please tell me how in the world that’s healthy. Really, I watch it when I do because it feeds my inner voyeur and makes me feel better about my own life. No matter how insane things get on my end, they’re still going to be more fulfilling than what those poor, insecure individuals have going on there. Although I will admit the places they get to go to are utterly stunning. I do envy them that at least. But in the end, the way I see it, it’s just not worth it.

So how in the world can I tie this all in with creative writing, other than the very creative thinking that goes into those kinds of delusions and the creative editing that happens to put that show together in all of its not-telling-the-whole-story glory? How about this for ideas: doing a creative writing reality show contest, where a bunch of aspiring authors are all looking for a publishing contract and have to share some old, historic mansion for three months while they write “the next great novel.” That’s what it could be called too: “The Next Great Novel.” Either that or “The Writer’s Block.” As in “the chopping block,” only for writers.

I don’t know about you, but I think this would be a great idea.

So how would it work? Well, for starters, each writer would have to submit a chapter per week, and their stories would be evaluated by a panel of three or five judges who were experts – but not obnoxious experts – in their fields. Now, that writing would only take up so much interesting, camera-ready time, of course, so they’d also stay busy interviewing historians or scientists or whatever profession-specific individuals their novels involved, like detectives or attorneys or brokers or whoever.

There could also be writing challenges each week, and contestants would have to “weigh in” with their word count, as well as do critique groups where they give each other feedback. Finally, as every successful reality TV show requires, there would be that little side room where people get to pour out their feelings. You know how judgy creative writers can be, not to mention how neurotically insecure they often are about their own stuff. So there would be plenty of asides to feature. I can just see and hear it now: all of the catty comments coming out of the more pretentious writers’ mouths:

  • Did you see what Ken submitted this week? It was garbage! He thinks he’s the second coming of Joseph Conrad, but all I could say was uninspiring. And boring. B. O. R. I. N. G. No need for my sleep meds tonight!

  • I am so stressed right now. [said while holding a glass of burgundy] I have literally five hours left to come up with 1,000 words. I mean, normally, that wouldn’t be an issue. But what Tara said to me last night really shook me up. I thought I knew where this story was going. But maybe I don’t? What if I’m wasting my time? What if I’m wasting my life?

  • The rivalry between Ken and Tara is really starting to wear on me. I mean, I came here to write and to prove to the world that my work is worth reading. Worth buying. Worth discussing. Not to hear them constantly bickering. It’s exhausting. They’re exhausting. I hope one of them is going home tonight. If not, I am seriously considering putting one or both of them into my novel – and then killing them off. Brutally. This romance is going to turn into a blood bath.

Let’s see… What else would there be in a writing-related reality show? People think that we novelists and novelists-in-the-making lead these quiet, dull, solitary lives. And, to some degree, I suppose we do. But force us to actually socialize with people, and it can make for train wrecks that I am quite sure can rival The Bachelorette.

As such, I really do think this could work – and work well, at least as a YouTube presentation. Obviously, ABC, NBC, Fox or any of the other major main channels wouldn’t pick it up. But how about TLC? Hey, if you can make season after season after season of girls picking out wedding gowns, house hunting, food finding, cooking, cupcake making (Cupcake making, for heavens’ sake! How many kinds of cupcakes is it possible to make, anyway?), being polygamous, being stranded, being naked and afraid, and so on and so forth… then why not make one about creative writers?

I’m just sayin’. And I’m also saying that if anyone listening knows how to actually put this into production… give me a call and let’s work the whole thing out. This could be huge! At least I’d watch it.

Thanks for tuning into The Genuine Writer Podcast, complete this week with my ramblings, my judgy comments about The Bachelorette and my admitted abhorrence of cupcake shows. (No, really though. Who wants to stare at cupcakes you can’t eat anyway?) As always, it was wonderful to have you here, and I’ll catch you writers next week. Until then, very happy writing.

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