Developing the Real-Life Substance

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by Michael Lee Joshua

I “live” in Colorado. But I work in Wyoming. I do get home every other weekend (as long as weather permits). Being up here in Wyoming has left me with time on my hands. I’ve gotten a lot of writing done.

Some of the best lessons I have picked up over the past few months have been gleaned from watching re-runs of Little House on the Prairie. I was never a fan of the show when it was originally on the air. I suppose I was just busy doing other things. (Especially considering I was graduating high school and becoming an adult at the time.)

The development of the characters of this long-running drama is deeper than many of the shows in prime time today. Of course, when a show is on for as many years as that one was, there’s plenty of time to build the three-dimensional characters we all strive to bring to the pages of our own writing. I have noticed how easy it is to anticipate and recognize what the specific characters would do in the situations presented. Even the occasional character brings his or her backstory experience into the mix with ease.

When I am in trouble with a scene in my own story, I close my laptop and “live” the scene in my mind. Not only does it bring the action into focus, but it helps me deepen the characters at the same time.

I find that by allowing myself to get pulled into the show, feeling the emotion, becoming a part of the action, it helps me see things that I can bring into my own writing.

More substance. After all, that is what we want in the novels we read.

Lessons from Little House. Who knew?

Michael Lee Joshua is a happy grandpa and a freelance writer. He is also skilled in SEO techniques and can help you find and dominate your niche on the internet. Visit his blog or contact him through his website at or his SEO site at

Comments 0

  1. Funny, I was thinking the same thing about Happy Days. Popular sitcoms start out with these goofy characters and they’re all about comedy, but once we get to know the characters, they can slip in one of those high-drama episodes. They could never do that if we didn’t care about the characters, which we really don’t in the first season. We, however, don’t get several seasons. We get about a chapter to make the reader care. It’s not easy!

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