3 Writing Cues from The Flash

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By Beth K. Vogt

“The Flash” is must-watch TV in the Vogt household. On Tuesday nights, my husband, teen daughter, and I hunker down in the family room eager to see what’s going to happen in Central City, home to Barry Gordon, a.k.a. The Flash, as well as his friends and enemies.

I walk away from every episode thinking, “I can’t believe the writers did that . . . and that . . . and that.” The show’s writers keep me coming back every week because I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do with Barry Gordon – and all the other characters in the show. Writing is writing, right? Here are some writing cues gleaned from “The Flash”.

Cue #1
Keep ’em guessing-Dr. Harrison Wells – is he Barry Allen’s friend or foe? From the pilot, the writers wove just enough “I’m not sure about him” into the character portrayed by Tom Cavanaugh. That guy can pull of nice and friendly just as easily as he can pull of sinister. All it takes is a facial expression or something he says. So do you trust him or not? More important, how do I write multilayered characters that keep my readers guessing?

Cue #2
Tell the secret – There’s a time for secrets, and then there’s a time to tell them. The writers of “The Flash” are all about telling the secrets – not holding on to them. Barry Gordon is The Flash, and then there’s the Reverse Flash. For a few episodes, the question was: Who is the Reverse Flash? And then the writers told us, so much sooner than I expected. What happened now? Well, now the viewers knew and the tension was upped all the more because every week we wondered when would Barry find out. As writers, sometimes we wait too long to tell the secret, rather than letting it loose and allowing our characters to deal with the fallout.

Cue #3
Go for the unforgettable and unexpected-There is one episode of “The Flash” I can’t get out of my mind. I went from thinking, “They can’t kill off this character” to “He’s going to die” – unable to look away, and dreading it. Yes, the acting was superb, which made the scene so powerful. But the decision of the writers to kill off a central character – loved by many viewers, not just me – was a bold move. What kind of scene can I write that is so powerful my readers won’t be able to forget it?

What writing cues can you take from your favorite TV show?

Beth Vogt April 2013Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” A 2015 RITA® Finalist and a 2014 Carol Award finalist, Beth launches her 2015 destination wedding series with an e-novella, Can’t Buy Me Love (May) and a novel, Crazy Little Thing Called Love (June). Visit Beth at bethvogt.com.

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