Thursday, March 5, 2009

American Idol: Writer-style

There are some inalienable truths in entertainment today: celebrities are usually much more intelligent when they're saying someone else's lines, computer graphics are getting freakily realistic, Hollywood thinks bigger chests sell more, I gotta get a new Kindle (this doesn't mean I have an old Kindle, just that I want the new one, especially since I've read rave reviews of the new app which syncs your Kindle to your iPhone--of course, then I'd have to get an iPhone, too), and America is crazy for reality shows.

And I think it's time us writers get a slice of the reality show mania. Studies show that 85% of Americans feel like they have a book in them, and they should get a chance to completely skip all the hard work and due diligence the rest of us put in.

So, announcing my truly fab idea. *drum roll...*

American (American...American...American...)

Writer (Writer...Writer...Writer...)

*In case you're wondering, that's what cool echo sound effects look like in print.*

Here are our judges.

1)
The Simon-type who gives brutally honest (or sometimes just brutal) feedback:

Stephen King
(Don't let this happy, innocent-looking picture fool you. The person running the "beep" button will have to stay on his toes.)

2) The Randy-type who will have to contractually say "molten hot" at least once a show:

Nora Roberts
(Can't you just seeing her calling every other contestant "Dawg"?)

3) Because we need a British accent:

J.K. Rowling
(She can just gush incoherently. As long as she shows up, we're good.)

4) And just so we have some conflict between the judges (after all, conflict is what drives plot, right?):

Stephenie Meyer
(And I'm sure Stephen King didn't really mean it when he said her writing was total crap or that she can't write worth a darn, right? And maybe Meyers can rig a bucket of animal blood to fall on King's head or sabotage the teleprompter to read "REDRUM." The ratings will go through the roof!)

Now that we have our judges, this is what the contestants will face. Dressing up in various survival gear and voting people off by a campfire is optional (I'll let the network that picks this up decide on that).

*Genre benders: Each writer draws a character, a situation, and a setting from a hat. Then they have to write a gripping story/chapter in the chosen genre. For example, you could pick Leon the shape-changing chameleon obsessed with finding his parents. The situation is that a glowering... I mean, good-looking beyond anything on earth ... girl keeps staring at him like she wants to eat him, but he's inexplicably drawn to her like a moth to a flame. And the setting could be a head-hunter's village in the Amazon. Then write it in epic fantasy style like Tolkein. I tell you, the true talent would just shine!

*Book signing role-playing: Put the writers in the middle of a mall, sprinkle in some slightly eccentric people (like the guy who's memorized his entire first page of his yet-to-be finished book and strikes a pose and recites it--loudly--and waits for your reaction), and see which writers can pull it off. They have to get a certain number of people to buy their book, without actually tackling them.

*Assign the contestants to write a brilliant query letter for either a new story or ones that are well-known. Query letter for Gone with the Wind anyone?

*Play capture the manuscript, but throw in some pretty cool weapons--paint guns, camouflaged pits, butterfly nets, etc.

* Hollywood week. Pair the writers up with a celebrity and see if they can put together a cohesive memoir.

*Split the contestants into teams, assign a drill sergeant to each team, and make them lose weight. (Oops, sorry. I don't know that we can pull from that reality show.)

And those are just *some* of the veritable bottomless pit of ideas. I think it's only a matter of hours before this idea takes off.

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