How the TV show ‘Bad Girls’ helped my writing…

A couple of days ago I came across the TV show ‘Bad Girls’ for the first time and it did exactly what every TV show – or every book for that matter – should do; it enticed me in a matter of seconds. Most people won’t watch or read something for hours in the hope it will interest them further down the road. There should be something that makes you think “Hmm… I want to keep watching/reading this…”

However as a viewer who had no connection with the show I did find a couple of things that peeved me, which I instantly saw was wrong in my writing and in turn helped me connect with the average person even more.

The first thing was that there were two leading male parts, both of whom were prison wardens and they looked very similar at first glance. I didn’t even realise until 30 minutes in when they were speaking to each other that they were actually different people! This of course made it very difficult to follow the sub-plots between the two characters when I didn’t know who was who. Of course the more you watch a show you notice different mannerisms and characteristics, not to mention slight facial features, hairlines etc… that separate the two. But in the meantime I found it frustrating, and thought they should be instantly recognisable. This directly affected one of my books because in my unpublished book ‘The Pornstar’ (which because I will be searching for publishers in the future, I am being deliberately vague about to not affect a publishing deal in any way) I have two characters with very similar names. They look very different and their characters are not similar in any way, but I soon realised that the reader may get confused due to the similar spelling of their names, especially when they interact with each other, and I soon realised the importance of having distinctively different names. After all, just because I know the difference doesn’t mean everybody else can follow it.

The second part was there was a scene where Rebecca Hazlewood (Who is a VERY underrated actress in my opinion) was playing a man born in a woman’s body, and subsequently had had surgery to become a woman and was now in a women’s prison. She confessed to a nun that she was born a man and said the words “I was born with a penis” during her ‘confession’.

Hearing a woman say the word ‘penis’ sounds unnatural and cringeworthy, I don’t know why but it just does, and I didn’t realise this until I heard it come from a woman. To be fair, why would I? ‘The Pornstar’, like most of my books, is written in the first person and the main character is female. Being a book about porn I say many variations of the words penis and vagina, mainly so it doesn’t sound monotonous. I had a friend of mine read the first draft and she said that a woman – especially in that industry – would never use the word ‘penis’. I took it with a pinch of salt (I realised as I typed that how disgusting that sounded…) and left it in anyway. Now that I’ve heard the word come from a female I have to apologize to my friend and say “You were 100% right” and now I have to go and change all the words that say ‘penis’ to something more vulgar, I assume. I haven’t been in character for months and probably won’t know what to say until I get back into character…

Despite my criticisms, I did really enjoy the show. I’d heard of the show before but had never thought to watch it. If you are a writer I would recommend it due to the gripping storylines and the depth in their sub-plots. It would give you an idea how to keep many characters relevant at the same time without the book droning on and on…

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