Purple Prose + Writing

What SYTYCD? Taught Me About Writing

I’m going to tell you a secret. I’m a huge fan of So You Think You Can Dance Canada? During season three (which ended last month), it dawned on me just how much we writers can learn from the show.

1. Don’t be afraid to try new genres: During his audition, super sexy Denys Drozdyuk wowed the judges by not only performing the Paso Doble on his own (something unheard of since it’s most definitely a partner dance), he combined it with a touch of contemporary dance.

All twenty-two dancers selected for the show had to learn and perform dance styles they had never studied before (contemporary, jazz, ballroom, hip hop, Latin dance). The dancers only had a few days to learn the routine, yet all did an amazing job.

As writers, we should push ourselves to try (or at least read) different genres, and see how aspects of them might combine to produce something even more exciting. You might even develop a new trend. Isn’t that what we all want? To be on top of a trend instead of racing behind it, especially since the latter is never recommended.

2. Bring out the emotion: At the end of each performance, the dance partners listened—sweat dripping down their faces, hearts pounding from the gruelling routine—as the judges critique the dance. Often the dancers were told to dig deep and pull out that raw emotion, which will take them to the next level. Those who managed to do that went far in the competition. There were a few dances that left the judges in tears because of the emotional connection they felt with the dancer and the performance (not to mention the subject matter).

Same deal with writers. In order for the reader to connect with our characters, we need to dig deep and bring our characters’ emotions to life on the page. It’s not easy at times. Sometimes we’re crying over what we just put them through (Or is that just me?). But it’s essential if we want to get to the next level: gaining an agent or landing a book contract.

3. You owned that dance: Each dancer had his or her own style (e.g. wild, kooky, etc). The successful dancers applied that to their routines and the judges took notice. This style made those dancers memorable. Very important during the competition.

Okay, writers. I have only one word for you: Voice!

4. Don’t give up because you were rejected: Tara-Jean Popowich auditioned for the first season of the show but never made it to the top twenty. She went home and did everything she could to become a better dancer. Her hard work and determination paid off. Not only did she make it to the show for season two. She won the position of Canada’s favorite dancer.

Like dancers, writers deal with rejections All The Time. It’s part of the package. But instead of bemoaning the unfairness of it all, take the rejection and use it to make your writing and/or story better. Maybe you need a crit group (or a different one). Maybe you need to enrol in a writing class to hone your skill some more. Do whatever it takes to push your writing to the next level.

5. Embrace the critique: Winner Denys Drozdyuk couldn’t have said it better on the final show when he told the judges that praise is great, but the critiques were what had made him a better dancer. What more can I say?

It was amazing watching the show and seeing how much dance has in common with writing fiction. Both require determination, passion, skill, and the ability to tell a story. Do you have all of these requirements? Is there something you need to work on some more?


I'm the guest blogger today on the Query Tracker Blog. The topic? The wicked truths about writing edgy YA novels. I'd love it if you zipped over to say, "Hi!"

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What SYTYCD? Taught Me About Writing + Writing