In my last post, I talked about how television inspires my writing. This time around I wanted to continue that train of thought by pointing out a sitcom has taught me a lot in my writing efforts. That show is The Middle.
This comedy is wrapping up its 9-season run this month. It’s bittersweet because I’m such a fan. Fortunately, this amazing gem is syndicated with the entire series running on FreeForm and Hallmark Channel.
The Middle tells the story of the Hecks, a semi-dysfunctional family of five living in Orson, Indiana. One thing I love about the storytelling is that each show successfully puts every character in the spotlight each week. Sure, the storylines shift to a different focus in each episode. But even then, we consistently get great insight into the development of each character. That’s no small accomplishment, and creators Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline do it flawlessly. It teaches me that in my writing, I need to keep both of those things in mind.
Another great accomplishment is the overall consistency of the story, itself. That’s evident in the fact that while the characters evolve and adjust when faced with circumstances and just the course of life, they’re fundamentally the same. That’s important, because any good story revolves around well-written characters.
Another constant is the world created around this show. The fictional town of Orson takes on a life of its own, as do the Heck home and all the various spots the family frequent. Not to mention the numerous town residents interacting with the Hecks from time to time. As both a reader and writer, I truly appreciate that.
Finally, while The Middle is a comedy, it has an amazing way of successfully delivering moments that are also poignant, pitiable, sad, or uncomfortable – all without overdoing it at all. That emotional balance is something I’m striving for in my own writing.
While I happily get lost in watching The Middle, I appreciate the storytelling lessons it teaches me as I try to hone my own writing skills.
Next week, I’ll touch on how another genre of TV inspires my writing. What inspires you? Let me know in the comment section below.