Monday, May 2, 2011

Lessons from LOST

Okay. I admit it. I’m one of the few who never saw a single episode of LOST when it ran on network TV. And do I ever regret it.

See, I was looking for a little motivational help to stay on the old exercise bike on a daily basis. I had just finished watching HBO’s ROME – also really, really good – and found that looking forward to watching the show, made me actually ride the stinkin’ bike. So I took a trip to my local library and picked up season one of LOST. And I’m telling you right now, if you see a thinner me by mid-summer, when I’ve finished season six, I will give more credit to LOST than I will to the exercise bike.

Tension? Oh yeah, we got tension. Twists, turns, surprises? Uh-huh! How about foreshadowing – any foreshadowing here? In spades. And my absolute favorite thing – you know that writing advice, when you’re stuck make something bad happen to your character? Just watch one episode and see so many terrible things happen, your head – or one of their heads – might literally spin!

So how can I take this info and apply it to my WIP? I don’t think it will work to have my main character accidentally stand on a beehive, or have a rockslide cover the door to his house, or have some random, terrifying animal run through his neighborhood. But I am spending a lot more time figuring out ways to ratchet up the tension. Because if tension makes me stay on an exercise bike, it surely will make people read my book.

So what other television shows have I missed that keep you wanting more, more, more every week? What else should I watch for plot and tension?


  1. Vampire Diaries. Hands down, AMAZING plot lessons...just when you think it can't get any does. But many of the episodes are written by Kevin Williamson who is pretty much a master of the plot twist, so even though as a fan I love to watch hot vampires battle...not a show goes by when I don't make a note of how the plot worked...kind of multi-tasking as I watch TV.

    Oh, and I'm the other person on the planet who never watched LOST. I saw the first episode - I absolutely adored Matthew Fox in Party of Five - but...just not my cup of tea. Although when I hear people talk about it with such fervor...I wonder what I've missed.

  2. Okay, now there are three of us who never watched LOST.

    I suppose I would get hold of THE SOPRANOS. By the time you watch all that, you'd be a mere shadow!

  3. I just watched Mildred Pierce, the recent HBO series, on demand, and I was riveted. Talk about plot twists. I did not see that last one coming. If you read the book or saw the original flick with Joan Crawford, you may be disappointed, because the director did away with a major plot point, but it's still a superbly crafted story, in a 1940s, hardboiled way, with enough dramatic twists and turns to keep you cycling madly, J.A. Check it out!

  4. Thanks all. I think I'm good for the rest of 2011!

  5. I love this post! I've never seen a single episode of Lost (although I might have to, now), but I love what you wrote about tension, twists, and turns. I'm always thinking about ways to boost the tension. Thanks for this!

  6. OMG. I felt the same way. My husband and I started watching it on Netflicks around Christmas and finished all six seasons by end of February. It was riveting on so many levels!