Unlikely Teachers

Writing Lessons From My Guilty Pleasure

Why yes, I do believe that is a plastic prop horse in the right corner. That alone should explain why this is my "guilty" pleasure.

Guilty pleasures. We all have them. Mine is watching the Family Channel… even when there are no kids around. Yes, I’m probably way too old to indulge in shows like Hannah Montana, but isn’t a children’s writer really just a kid that had to take on life’s responsibilities? Plus, if I learned some great stuff about writing along the way, doesn’t that count for something? 

Shhh! It’s a secret

Hannah Montana: In the world of Hannah Montana, hardly anyone knows Miley’s secret, but in the real world, the entire audience knows her obvious shocking secret. Miley is Hannah Montana! *gasp* Hope I didn’t ruin it for anyone. 😛

Lesson: Readers, especially kids, love to know a “secret” that your story’s characters have yet to learn. Letting readers sink their teeth in to a juicy tidbit is great way to create irony, humour and tension. If properly utilized, this is a great device to create a page-turner.


Get wiggy with it

Hannah Montana: Wig off, she’s Miley. Wig on, she’s Hannah. Yes, slightly unbelievable, but in the show this small change makes a world of difference.

Lesson: Small changes can yield big results. This could be applied to both writing skills and WIPs. For example, I know that one of my writing downfalls is punctuation. Not an easy thing to admit, especially since I feel like you’re going to scan this post for mistakes now, but it’s the truth. Hey, the important thing is that I’m working on it. By identifying the weakness, reading about how to fix it, and practising, I have already noticed a difference in my writing. I also take pride in knowing that the more my punctuation improves, the more seriously my work will be viewed.

For WIPs, the small change rule also applies.  Sometimes adding or cutting a scene or just reorganizing plot points can have a profound effect on the work as a whole. The great thing about changes and technology? If it turns out the change didn’t improve your work, just go back to your previous draft! No harm done.


Best of both worlds

Hannah Montana: That blonde wig allows Miley to live the life of a superstar AND the life of a normal teenager.

Lesson: Consider using a pseudonym. Chances are you aren’t going to need it to separate your normal life from your superstardom (Even though one can dream), but here’s a few other reasons to use a pen name that you may not have considered.

You write different genres. Will the readers of your romance book be disappointed to pick up your new sci-fi book?

You write for different age groups. Do you want a middle grade reader to pick up your new adult novel?

Work and/or your community would not take kindly to what you write. If you work at a daycare or live in a conservative town, do you really want everyone to know you write erotic novels?

Your name is long or hard to pronounce. If your last name is Snicklebottomisma, will readers have a difficult time remembering or pronouncing your name?

You wrote a novel based on real life. If it’s an embarrassing and/or painful story, do you really want everyone to know who it’s about?

Of course, there are a lot more reasons, but those are a few common ones.


What has your guilty pleasure taught you about writing?


6 thoughts on “Writing Lessons From My Guilty Pleasure

  1. lt’s no guilty pleasure watching kids movies or cartoons. I like watching them. I like Hannah Montana myself. but I have never watched Hannah Montana this way. Ill try next time.

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