Watching Supernatural is like free admittance to a 12-season-long writing course. Here are the top reasons to watch:
7. Sheer beauty
As humans, we are naturally drawn to the beautiful things in life. And I don’t think there’s anyone who’d argue that Jensen Ackles is ridiculously beautiful. It’s unnatural, really. Jared Padalecki is beautiful too, but he’s young-looking enough to make me feel like a pervy creeper for noticing–so I mention that only for you younger girls out there. But if you don’t feel inspired to write a beautiful hero (especially a romantic hero) after watching these guys fight evil and save the world every week, then you might want to check your pulse, ‘cause you might be dead. (Yeah, I’m a fangirl. What of it?)
6. Dead again. And again. And again…
I can’t think of another show that has killed off and brought back more main characters than Supernatural. And every time, the death and rebirth is unique and inventive. But beyond that, the emotion that comes with each death and reunion is so powerful and genuine that as a viewer, you’re right there with the characters. If, as a writer, you can inject that kind of emotion into your characters, your novel will be all the better for it.
5. The fabulous others
On Supernatural, the secondary characters are not just devices used to move the story along for the main characters, or dump exposition on viewers. They have as much depth as the heroes and lives of their own, including compelling backstories (Bobby’s backstory made me cry, for God’s sake). Almost any one of them could star in his/her own spinoff (I would totally watch the Bobby/Castiel/Crowley show). And as a writer, who isn’t hoping for series-worthy secondary characters?
I was never a fan of Superman. He was too…good. Said all the right things, never did anything selfish or just flat-out wrong. I just couldn’t relate to him. He didn’t act like a real guy would. Now, Batman, on the other hand, I could relate to. He was dark, obsessive, and a little crazy–but he managed to overcome all of that and be a hero. It was his flaws that made him easy to relate to. Dean and Sam Winchester are relatable heroes. Sam can be a little whiny at times and Dean can be a little judgmental. They do stupid things to protect the ones they love, and they've worked hard to overcome their major Daddy issues. But week after week, season after season, they manage to overcome their issues and save the day (and sometimes the world). Long-story-short: relatable heroes sell books.
3. Comic relief
Have you ever read novels that were artfully written, but so damn serious and depressing you felt emotionally drained after reading them? Supernatural has always done a fantastic job of breaking up the really serious episodes with comedic ones that are laugh-until-you-pee-your-pants funny (episodes like Yellow Fever and The French Mistake come to mind). Injecting a little comedy into your novel will undoubtedly make it more realistic, because let’s face it, real life is sometimes too hilarious for words!
2. Fantastic villains
I don’t know about you, but I think that writing a good villain is almost tougher than writing a hero. You want your villain to be complex enough to be realistic, but not so likeable that your readers relate to him/her better than they identify with your hero. Supernatural’s villains have always walked that line precisely with flair and panache. Crowley, Meg, Lilith, The Trickster, Rowena…hell, even Lucifer were the perfect combination of clever, interesting, and diabolical.
1. Show don’t tell
It’s drilled into our heads as writers from day 1: demonstrate your characters’ emotions through their actions, not by explaining how they’re feeling to your audience. It’s not an easy task (I’m not gonna lie…my first instinct is to throw adverbs at the page. You practically need a machete to hack through all the adverbs in my first drafts). But the Supernatural writers seem to pull it off with ease. Take for example season seven, episode 11. After the brothers are devastated by a profound loss, a fellow hunter tells Dean that the only way to get through the really dark days is to fake a smile and keep doing the job. The episode ends with a close-up of Dean’s face as he’s driving. He’s smiling, but the pain in his tear-filled eyes is so evident, you can’t help but hurt right along with him. The scene is flawless. The perfect example of “show don’t tell.”
So, all that being said, go take a break to watch some Supernatural, but then get back to writing!
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