Sunday, January 15, 2012

5 Ways the Golden Globes Can Help Your Writing

Today is one of my favorite days of the year, because today is...The Golden Globe Awards!!! (live on NBC at 8pm EST/7pm CST)

Yes, I am an awards junkie, and we are in the thick of awards season. The Golden Globes are my favorite awards show, more than the Oscars, for several reasons: they're fun and not stuffy, they celebrate movies and TV, they're the first show of the year, and they serve as a snapshot of where the top films and performances stand in the Oscar race. And there's pretty dresses, too! For those unfamiliar, the Golden Globe Awards are voted on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of 85 freelance journalists. The HFPA has no overlap with the Oscars and have drawn controversy for selling awards to the highest bidder and nominating stars from lousy movies so they can rub elbows with them. But despite this, the GG's remain very popular with viewers and Hollywood folk.

Even if you don't watch the show, there are some valuable lessons that writers can learn from the Globes' success:

1) Pack your show with stars. The HFPA loves nominating big stars, even in poorly-received movies. Last year, they nominated Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie for the critically-panned film The Tourist. George Clooney is nominated for four awards tonight, Ryan Gosling for two. Sure, they also nominate the lessen-known actors (like Jean Dujardin), but they'll also throw us a Kate Winslet. The HFPA is smart. They don't just nominate big stars to feel cool, but also to drive ratings. People will tune in to see their favorite celebrities. Likewise, write characters that people will want to read. Make them interesting and exciting and funny and dynamic. Surround them with vivid supporting characters. These are the stars of your book, and they will attract readers. We've all read books where the plot was so-so, but the characters kept us hooked.

2) Only give out awards viewers care about. Unlike the Oscars, the Globes don't drag out their show with technical awards like Best Sound Mixing or multiple montages. The Globes only give out best show/movie and acting awards, with a scant handful of writing/directing/score categories -- the categories viewers care about. They've cut the fat that bogs down most award shows, and as a result, the show is remarkably streamlined. Think of awards as plot points. Only include the most necessary parts in your novel. Keep the story moving. Don't pad; don't add fluff. Readers can tell, especially young readers.

3) Save room for comedy. While the Oscars rarely recognize comedic films, the Globes split the movie categories into drama and comedy/musical, guaranteeing funny films will be represented. Many awards-bait films aren't as widely-known to viewers as popular comedies; it's nice to have a movie like Bridesmaids thrown into the mix with The Artist and Shame, among others. Likewise, in your story, don't forget the funny. Comic relief is always welcome. Even if you are writing a serious book, it doesn't hurt to write a humorous moment or character here and there. Give readers a brief chuckle amongst the epicness and somberness. They'll appreciate it.

4) Let your characters know they aren't perfect. Ricky Gervais is the first host the Globes have ever had, and he is a marked difference from the genial Oscar hosts. He openly mocks celebrities in attendance, as well as the HFPA, bringing them down a peg. Many were outraged by his antics, but audiences seemed to like it, and the HFPA invited him back. Your characters can't float through the story infallible and unharmed. You need Ricky Gervais-esque characters or situations that will rough them up and point out their flaws. Make it uncomfortable for them.

5) Keep it entertaining. Handing out awards isn't the most important facet of the Golden Globes. It's more of an afterthought. NBC bills the Golden Globes as the party of the year, placing the emphasis on drunk celebrities, humorous acceptance speeches, and pretty dresses. They aren't stuffy like the Oscars. When writing your book, remember above all that it's meant to entertain. People read novels for pleasure. Even when they read serious, issue-driven books, they want to enjoy reading. So in the midst of your plotting, world building, and character mapping, make sure that you're creating something people actually will want to read. And if you have a character or two in a pretty dress, even better!

I will leave you with my pick for best dressed from last year's show.

And the worst...


  1. I hope it was fun, and the dresses were beautiful :-)

  2. I caught a little of this last night. The host is damned funny. He ripped on the rich, beautiful, and glamorous without end.

  3. I love Ricky Gervais, but he was way too tame this year. I guess he cared more than he let on. But the show was still fun and we can always laugh at Madonna.

  4. the only problem with the Globes is that they give award to most undeserving people (Madonna this year) and that they repeat themselves constantly for no obvious reasons (Kelsey Grammer, Claire Danes and such).
    Gervias is nice until he crosses the lines :)
    PS you have my post on this year's best dressed at my place :)