Let’s face it: crafting a novel takes a long time. As I write without detailed chapter outlines and comprehensive character charts, I’m exploring my characters, building my fantasy world, and discovering “what happens” with each sentence. Another aspect of novel writing that drains my spirits is that my novel is always in process until it’s finished. That’s why I write a daily blog: so I can initiate, develop, finish, and publish something each day. The satisfaction I derive from those daily achievements buoy my spirits as I trudge on toward the completion of my novel.
I also find it helpful to watch a TV show during lunch. Without any mental exertion, I can explore character, study dialogue, and reflect on any issues raised. In forty to fifty minutes, I fortify myself with the three essential acts of drama, remind myself of the need to arouse the reader’s curiosity in the beginning, sustain it during the middle, and hopefully, satisfy his or her interest with the ending.
Of course, it goes without saying that all those elements play out, on a smaller scale, within each scene of a good novel.
As I mentioned in “The Hunter of My Memories,” I’ve been watching “Hunter” lately. This police drama started the same year as the more popular and award-winning “Miami Vice.” In the first season, Hunter took some stylistic cues from “Miami Vice.” Long, music montages played out against action set on the backstreets of Los Angeles. While “Vice” used the latest Pop music, “Hunter” often opted for Hard Rock or Heavy Metal. “Vice” offered viewers eye candy with beautiful Porsches, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis; “Hunter” offered us big-bodied American-made cars from the ‘70s and ‘80s. When the action in “Vice” took place in a rundown neighborhood, the production team spruced up streets and painted ramshackle buildings. “Hunter” portrayed the backstreets of Los Angeles at their grungy worst.
“Hunter” starts off as TV’s answer to "Dirty Harry." He’s a hard-nosed cop whom no one in his department likes or trusts. He grabs colleagues’ cases if they interest him. He eats chili dogs and junk food. He engages in high-speed car chases, which frequently end in spectacular crashes, in the busiest sectors of the city. And of course, he’s not afraid to use his gun.
The guest actors provide additional sparkle to each episode. Some of these allow the viewer to watch a famous actor before he or she became a household name. Right now, I’m enjoying Season Three. One episode featured a short but dramatic scene with Claudia Christian (in a bikini!), who would later star as Susan Ivanova in the Sci-Fi series “Babylon 5.” Another episode offered Brent Spiner, who would go on to paint his face white and win our hearts as the android Data in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” And then there’s Garrett Morris, who previously rose to prominence on “Saturday Night Live.” He plays Sporty James, who drives a Cadillac, uses his friend’s shoeshine stop as his office, and trades in street-information for money and favors. Not only does he make you laugh, but in one episode, when one of his deals goes wrong and his girlfriend dies, his grief is so palpable, so real, that he reminds us comedians can also rip our hearts out when given the right dramatic role.
Now seems the perfect time to (re)discover “Hunter.” All seven season are available in one DVD box set, for what seems a reasonable price, when compared to better-known ‘80s shows like “Miami Vice.” I think you’ll agree with me that the show grows more sophisticated, and thus more satisfying, as the series progresses. It’s given me valuable insights, which have kept me writing, and perhaps even improved my stories. But then again, that’s why I'm watching it.
That's also why I'm recommending it to you.
Taking inspiration wherever I find it,
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