Monday, August 24, 2009

I Learned It From Backyardigans

I watch a lot of Backyardigans. My daughter is 18 months old and it is the ONLY thing that will keep her still for more than five minutes, so we usually watch one episode a day. The more I watch, the more I've come to appreciate the writing.


They have a great group of five animated kids/animals who live their imaginations in their backyard. But even though they are pretending to be different people (pirates, spies, trash collectors, clowns) their individuality still shows through.

Pablo panicks easily, Austin is shy, Tasha plays the diva, Tyrone states the obvious, and Uniqua...well - I haven't quite figured her out yet.

Of course, they are much more complicated than that - but the consistency and strength of these traits shows through, regardless of what's happening in that
particular episode.

They have very basic plots for each episode (hey - my 18-month old daughter can kinda follow along). But it is still something that can be translated into plotting a novel...ifjust do it with more subtlety.

    1. They start by telling you their goal.
    2. They introduce the characters in their roles - antagonist, protagonist, plucky side-kick.
    3. They sprinkle in some conflict or obstacles to be overcome - usually something for each character to help with.
    4. Finally, they achieve their goal and have a happy ending - because really...who wants unresolved, unhappy endings?

Of course, they add in a nice musical number every couple minutes...I wonder how I can work that into my novel?

What have you learned from watching TV?


Tess said...

Oh, I remember those days! What fun to have an excuse to watch some of those programs :). I always liked 'Charlie and Lola' clever!

I sometimes get inspiration from TV..not much cuz I'm not a big watcher, but it has happened.

Cindy said...

I love that you compared writing to the Backyardigans. You're right, that is a simple but useful kind of outline for making a plot.

I love the Backyardigans. It used to be my oldest daughters favorite show.

T. Anne said...

I had to laugh at your title. I miss watching Tasha. *sigh* DD is all of 8 now..

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

Backyardigans is too new for me to know. My baby is nine. :) But I do remember how his favorite shows always kept to a simple plot. What a great thing to remember if we're writing early readers or beginning chapter books!! Thanks Joyce! :)

Jody Hedlund said...

It's great how you can break the show down so clearly! I don't have the time to watch much TV either, but I do find inspiration from really clever movies!

Corey Schwartz said...

We LOVE that show! When your daughter needs a change, try Jack's Big Music show. It's great too!

Danyelle said...

Great breakdown. I think they're kinda weird, but the chipmunks love them! (I totally wasn't expecting the rock and roll music in one of the episodes.)

Stephanie said...

Jack's Big Music show is one of my favs!! I totally sing along!!! I hate that Noggin only shows it at 11 at night! I should DVR it!!

jdcoughlin said...

i don't know the show. But I love the outline. I'm having a little trouble with my writing structure. Love the Keep it Simple solution.
That's what I'm calling your post, my solution.
Thanks, Girl!

Jill Kemerer said...

I remember Backyardigans! Cute show. Some children's cartoons are so preachy, but that one is whimsical and sweet.