A Writer’s Eyes

You may remember the moment. Plots became more obvious to you. Books, movies, and TV shows had to be among the best to impress you, because mediocre wasn’t cutting it anymore. You had writer’s eyes, and story became fairly obvious to you.

At first I didn’t like being able to figure things out. I wanted to be surprised by the stories I consumed in whatever format I consumed them in. And occasionally I still am, but for the most part it takes a pretty good story to get me impressed. There truly is nothing new under the sun, but I continue searching for those really good stories that make the consumption worthwhile.

Has that happened for you? Are you able to predict the plots of stories because that’s your business? That’s just how your brain works? You’ve spent a lot of time making those plot connections yourself, so most plots of most stories won’t really surprise you.

That’s often how I feel about movies today. Oh, we’re spending a lot of time on this minor character, he must be important later. Hmm, seems like this girl’s only purpose is to get the plot going. Things like that.

Granted, there are a few movies/books/shows that do take me by surprise and tantalize my brain, but that’s generally more the exception than the rule.

And then there are those stories that I know exactly what’s going to happen and yet somehow they still pull me in. (See Korean dramas.) I always try and explore the essence of those stories and figure out what it is that keeps me hooked and how can I harness that draw in my own writing.

Although becoming a writer and understanding story has “ruined” some experiences for me, it’s enlightened me in other ways. I try not to waste my time on mediocrity. Although I have found on occasion the abysmal story can be instructive in its own way.

But I want to hear from you. Do you now have writer’s eyes? Has it ruined certain stories for you, or do you feel it has enhanced your experience? Is it difficult for you to find really impressive stories or do you find value in even the abysmal? Let me know what you think below.

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19 thoughts on “A Writer’s Eyes

  1. I honestly do try to lose myself. It’s easier for some reason with books than with movies. Most times though, unless I’m thoroughly engaged, I do have to turn off the writer brain.

  2. It’s why I don’t watch crime shows that often. After a while, I figure out the scriptwriters’ pattern. Though, I’ve seen a new trend of the criminal turning out to be a character that never showed up before and found through evidence gathered during a commercial break. There’s a limit to the amount of red herrings in a single episode and I’m just ranting at this point.

    • That’s one reason why Korean dramas fascinate me. I know how it’s going to turn out 99% of the time, but somehow I’m still invested in seeing how it happens. I’m not saying it’s good to leave an obvious trail to the end, but if as a writer I could harness that invested to the end power so that even for those who uncover the plot early on, that they still have an enjoyable ride. Know what I mean?

  3. I’m with you there. For a while now I’ve found myself regularly guessing what is going to happen in a book/movie/TV show before it happens. It’s a part of my brain that I am no longer able to turn off. I do still enjoy the stories I consume, because I’m just the kind of person who loves stories of all kinds, but it is a little disappointing when I guess what’s going to happen before I’ve gotten a few pages/minutes in.

  4. Yup agreed. The key is to not tell an original story (because nothing is truly original) but to make it fresh and interesting. I like to think of stories as roller coaster rides. You can see the path of where it is going but but a good one still gives you a thrill with it’s ups and downs. I think a problem I am seeing more of now is people are trying to be too serious. We need more 80s movie fun! (my opinion of course, lol).

    • Um, yes and YES! I miss the ’80s so much. Of course the Ghostbusters are going to save the day, but the ‘how’ is the real fun. Writing in the ’80s (for movies at least) was phenomenal. Hold on, I’m going to shed a little tear for the decade. 😥

  5. Hi, Jae! *waves*

    Great post. When I moved house in the summer, I reread the last of the Lemony Snicket books, and I was seeing little clues in the writing and tongue-in-cheek tone, etc. I definitely have writer’s eyes now, but it does make me really picky about reading, especially new books.

    • Hiya! *waves back* Hey, speaking of Lemony Snicket, did you like the conclusion? I felt like he cheaped out in a way I worried JK Rowling would but didn’t. Take it to the end Lemony. The end!

      • I didn’t when I was younger, but I did when I was rereading through. I think it works for the mystery surrounding the entire series – and Snicket’s assertion that people are not right or wrong, and not everything has an answer.

  6. I’m only a novice at this writing malarkey so, though I’m learning, I certainly can’t predict how a story will unfold.
    You’re with some other authors Jae that say that there are now only variations on some well-defined themes. For now I refuse to go along with this and will at least pretend my stuff is original 🙂

    • It’s only a natural step of the whole writing biz to believe you are completely unique. But at the same time, you are. The themes might be similar, but it’s the way they’re told that matter. It’s adding your viewpoint to the mix and it may be your viewpoint that makes all the difference to a reader. That’s why we all should keep on writing. 🙂

  7. Hi Jae! I’d been wondering what you’ve been up to these days. I didn’t realize I missed one of your posts. I can’t say that I have “writer’s eyes”–I write a lot (both for work and for fun), but I consider myself more of a reader than a writer, As a reader/writer, I certainly have become familiar with common plot twists. Sometimes it’s annoying to know what will happen, but hopefully, the writer is so good at setting the scene and developing the characters that the journey to the inevitable end is still enjoyable.

  8. Hi Jae,
    I’m so late to this party but I liked the topic so wanted to comment.

    Yes, this has definitely been happening to me over the past year or so and I take it as a good sign that I’m getting better at dissecting stories. Hopefully that will make me a better writer.

    It doesn’t necessarily ruin a movie for me, unless it’s soooo obvious. But I do love it when I’m surprised or if the writing / story line is so high level and cleverly written.

    Good topic!

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