What LOST Has Taught Me About Writing Great Copy
I’m a television junkie, my habit formed early in life, then groomed along a few steady decades of dependence and practiced routine.
Fortunately, controlling the cravings for my coaxial crack has been made easier by a sharp shift in my recent schedule. Now I’m a writer spending my days writing great copy. I’ve modified the methods in which I feed those ravenous parts of my brain, always starving for stories and essential truths.
The solution was simple. Now, like blowing bubbles instead of smoke, these days I deliver ideas rather than simply soaking them in.
Don’t get me wrong, were it entirely up to me I would still be mainlining my digital opiate directly from eyeballs to frontal lobe, but the mass reduction in my high definition addiction has led me to cling only to the future classics. Where my plate was once filled with empty calories, now it is mostly protein and nutrients.
The digital dance is different for everyone. For me, there is no weekly prescription I’d rather have pushed at my peepers than LOST. The show, now in its fifth season, is far from idle television. LOST is both demanding and rewarding. The most observant of its viewers conclude each episode with dots connected, parallels drawn, and a few more questions that almost always come packaged in patience.
Like great copy, LOST has me hook, line and sinker. There isn’t another show on television I’m more inclined to catch. This is no accident. LOST’s room of writers know exactly what they’re doing.
Here are the 5 ways LOST has taught me about writing great copy.
1) LOST makes me think, in part due to the multitude of well threaded story lines woven from the first episode forward. Yet it is the intelligent elements of the show that truly make it shine. Heavy in science and synchronicity, the writing in LOST rarely fails to brighten the burning bulb above my head, encouraging me to ponder my place and wonder how the world unfolding in front of me at 32 frames per second relates to the world that swirls around me each day.
2) LOST always leaves me eager for more. I am never quite ready to bid farewell as that bone white logo floats to the surface of the screen behind a single beat of steady percussion. I am so keen to see what’s coming next, I am willing to rewind and review what I already know.
3) LOST always has me in thought long after the final fade. Where is the story going? Was there anything I missed? What was I supposed to glean from the episode? Great television, like any great art or compelling copy should leave the audience with something to wonder. Writing great copy means you either leave them pondering what to do or whether to buy, but your purpose must be palpable.
4) LOST leaves me feeling like I can’t afford to miss a moment. The most consistent argument I hear from people who have not yet experienced the show is that it is too difficult to jump into mid-stream. No argument from me. LOST is an island away from formulaic, situation TV and has consistently built upon the scaffolding it set early in the first season. Missing an episode of LOST is missing a lot.
5) LOST is imbued with intelligence and an overall plan. Sure, there have been moments in the last five seasons where I’ve wondered if the writers really knew where they were going. Yet the writing is so consistently solid, that even if they are making it up as they go along, the audience could never prove it. This makes me trust the writers not only as storytellers, but as master craftsman. Solid trust between author and audience can lead to places few other things can.
LOST is a spectacular show and I can’t wait to inhale it all for the second time in a week long binge someday in the future. For now, I am happy to revisit the remarkable writing once a week for a few months at the dawn of each year and reflect at how the wonderful writing in widescreen can translate to the published copy in my browser. Thanks LOST, for teaching helping me write great copy.
The Collective Inkwell Community Question: What television, movies or music has made a difference in your copy or art?