What “Terrace House” taught me about writing


Terrace House, if you haven’t heard of it, is a Japanese reality show for people who don’t like reality shows. When I first heard of the show, it was through a friend at work. They described it as six strangers, three men and three women, who live in a house together to seek out romance with each other. It sounded like a dramatic time sink, and I said as such. However, my friend assured it me it was so much more than that. So, I started watching it, and she was right.

Terrace House is focused on romance, but it goes so much deeper than that. Each person in the group has the goal of leaving the show in a relationship, but they also come in with goals for their lives. Some want to be models, others want to be pilots, chefs, hockey players, designers, etc. These strangers come together, forge friendships, and they cheer each other on. They take their new friend’s goals as seriously as their own. Often times they will have one-on-one sit downs where they will discuss, in-depth, how close they are to their goals, what they may be doing wrong, etc. There is drama, but it is a minor part of the show.

If there is drama, they almost always face the drama head-on. They discuss it constructively and will usually come away from the situation closer than they were before. It is really refreshing to see when we are often times surrounded by drama, pettiness, cattiness, etc. Now, you may be asking, what does a Japanese reality show have to do with writing? Well, here were some of my takeaways while watching the show:

Drama doesn’t have to be the focus
I feel, depending on the genre, that drama is typically the focus. Whether it be drama within a relationship, drama between family, drama in life, etc, I have found, after watching Terrace House that drama doesn’t always have to be the focus for it to be entertaining. Watching them sit around chatting about their day, watching them cheer at their friend’s concert. or watching them set up dinner and birthday decorations is often times just as fun as the drama, if not more so. Life is full of drama. Having a little reprieve is refreshing, and I think that can come through in literature, as well.

Romance isn’t all passion
Sure, romance novels with Fabio on the cover have their place in the world, but real romance isn’t always so passionate. It’s good to remember that small things can be just as romantic as large gestures, and it’s also worth remembering that just because there is a large gesture doesn’t mean the person is going to enjoy or love it. There is a major scene in Opening New Doors, this season of Terrace House, where someone has been courting a woman for a while. He has kissed her, taken her out on romantic dates, got her roses, and finally asked her to be his girlfriend. She said “no.” On the other hand, another romance took place. The guy went to dinner with the girl a few times, he went to her hockey games, and there really wasn’t anything past platonic time spent together. He asked her out, and she said, “yes.” Those small, friendly moments are just as romantic, if not more so, than the large, dramatic gestures.

There are rational people in the world
I know it doesn’t always seem like it, but there are people in this world that don’t just storm off at the first sign of conflict. There are people who are willing to sit down and talk things out in a constructive manner. There are people who can reflect on themselves and their actions and apologize when they know they have done wrong. Of course, there are people out there (myself, included) who haven’t reacted to things as appropriately as they should have. However, I’d like to think there are more rational people in the world than irrational. Not every disagreement has to end in a screaming match or in tears. It could simply lead to deeper character development or a new relationship to explore between two characters.

The characters are everything
Reading this post back to myself, I almost feel crazy. I ask myself, if there is no drama, no large romantic gestures, no arguments, what is there to enjoy? What is going to keep the readers reading? I don’t think I would enjoy a book without some of these elements, but then I think of Terrace House. While yes, it doesn’t have a ton of drama, the romantic gestures aren’t always grand, and there aren’t people fighting in the middle of the living room every night, there doesn’t have to be. The people are just so unique, they all have dreams, ambitions, and goals. They have lives outside of the show that you get to hear about daily. I feel like I am watching my friends or family, and I am cheering them on all the way. The characters, they are the main reason I keep watching. Good characters can make up for a lot. That is probably the most important thing to take away from all of this.

Have you seen Terrace House? What do you think? If you haven’t, are you interested? Let me know, and comment below!

Lissy

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