Saturday 30 May 2020

Time for a Writing Reality TV Show by Tamsin Cooke

At the moment, life is rather uncertain and difficult. Therefore I decided to have a little fun with my post this month. And so I imagined a writing reality TV programme/game show.  Please note - I don't intend this to be real.

Imagine ten children’s authors – picture book to young adult - battling it out to reign supreme!!! 

Ten authors would stand at an individual high desk in a semi-circle. ( 2 metre spaces between them of course!) Laptops, coffee and cake on each station. The gameshow host would stand at the front between two - YES two, not just one - spinning wheels. (No expense spared in this production!)

On the left spinning wheel would be the categories: Picture book, Early readers, Middle Grade, Teen and Young Adult.

And on the right spinning wheel would be the following: Horror, poetry, fantasy, historic, fairytale, romance, realistic, science fiction and graphic novel.

Can you see where this is going?

The host spins the left wheel. The audience, leans forward, clasping their knees in anticipation. An age range is chosen. The host spins the right wheel and the genre is selected. Then the authors have SIXTY MINUTES to create either a full story or extract. For picture books, early readers and graphic novels, illustrators could be brought in. 

The hour is up. The authors must read their work aloud and the illustrators show their masterpieces.  Three judges give their responses to the stories. Then the phonelines are open. Twenty-four hours for the public to judge their favourite story. 
The next day, the results are in. The tension is palpable. Starting from the top, the winner of the round is announced. The author whose story got the most votes is given a pen with a spinning wheel on the clicky bit. The audience goes wild.

The rest of the authors find out if they are safe or not. Finally the gameshow host names the bottom two. To stay in, these authors must complete a challenge. The winner moves onto the next round, while the loser is eliminated.

Challenges for the bottom two include: 
  • Together they create a story, taking turns to say one word at a time. Any hesitation or ums – they lose!
  • They’re given a topic and have one minute to say a story aloud. The best one wins.
  • They become a character from the story they just wrote. Interviewed by the judges, the most authentic character wins.
  • They  fight a tiger and the one not to die, wins.
Then it would be round two with nine authors. This would play out until the final week when only two contestants remain. It would be the ...
No spinning wheels are needed here. The two finalists get to choose their own genre AND intended age range. The audience can hardly contain themselves. 

There's a big golden envelope which the host slowly rips opens to reveal the topic of today's story. The authors have SIXTY MINUTES to create a masterpiece. Illustrators can be brought in if required.

When the hour is up, they read out the stories.  This time the vote is split 50/50 between the public and the judges. OOOOOOOOHHHHHH!!!
The next day, the winner is revealed. Their prize: a publishing deal AND a sculpture of a spinning wheel for the mantlepiece. Oh yes!!!

I'm still trying to work out what can happen while the authors are writing to make it a teensy bit more interesting for the audience. Any ideas, please leave in the comments below. I might even send you a pen with a spinning top as a thank you. Or you could become a contestant!!!!

Tamsin Cooke
Author of The Scarlet Files Series and Stunt Double Series
Twitter: @TamsinCooke1 


Unknown said...

about making it more interesting while... Maybe while writing, they could be taking their clothes off, very slowly.

Moira Butterfield said...

Total nightmare! Have you been eating too much cheese at bedtime again? ; )

Penny Dolan said...

Thinking about the usual casting of contestants for shows like this:
the elderly do-goodish older woman; the in-for-a-laugh hapless man; the coquettish younger woman who muses soulfully while pouting; the earnest still-boyish science or medical student: the bluff but lovable bloke from the regions; the sweet, shy male scientist/medic; the quiet young woman with shoulder length hair and quiet determination . . . Are there more "types" you'd suggest?

Could go on and on, and that's without adding all the aspects of gender, nationality, mid-life crisis and so on into the mix.

And who - withot groaning - can one imagine as the two "comedy hosts"? Or the judges?

Or the range of walls and other objects that can be used to show paint drying while the writers' write? Oh that's where the author-linked landscape scenery would come in (eg Welsh writer: shots of Dylan Thomas' shed by the sea; Irish: Dublin or Yeats' Sligo, etc)

STOP. STOP. STOP!!! This idea of yours is getting all too possible. Tamsin.
As one of the ABBA editors I may have to delete the entire post for all our sakes and safety! :-)

ps Great post!!!!

Tamsin Cooke said...

To unknown, your idea really made me laugh! Although I'm thinking the show will have to be on after the watershed!

Tamsin Cooke said...

To Moira, I always eat too much cheese at bedtime! ; )

Tamsin Cooke said...

To Penny, I'm loving your ideas. You've got the perfect selection of candidates - although we need to make sure they each have a sob-story the audience can get behind.
I know who'd be clamouring to be a judge!

Penny Dolan said...

I didnt dare go down the sob story, much as I was tempted, Tamsin!
The one traumatised at age six by his/her teacher for writing left-handed.
The one who has to write on wallpaper as that was the only surface available whenthey began aged two.
The one who lives by a great lake and is only able to write because someone invented a pen that works underwater. (Tank would have to be provided.)
The one who is violently allergic to punctuation.
The one who sings opera loudly and badly while writing - how annoying for the others! Or a persistent cough . . .
The one who, from childhood, is driven to eatpaper and in danger of consuming their words as they are written
The one who can only write with his great grandfathers gold pen, brought back from the wilds of Russia but who will lose it just as he makes the semi-finals.

And so on and so on. What a great game!