Be a Couch Potato

People say TV is bad for you, but for a writer, a good long lounge fest every day might not be the worst thing in the world.

You can't learn about prose from watching television and movies, but you can learn about a lot of other things that are important to storytelling: pacing, tension, character, and more. And you can do it in far less time than you'd invest in reading a book. You can watch an entire movie every night if you want, and still have time to do the dishes. God, I love efficiency.

Plus, you can watch your friends and family respond to visual stories in a way you can't watch them respond to a book. I suppose you could sit near a reading friend and ask "What's so funny?" every time they chuckled, but there are two problems with that: (1) you'd never be able to detect their subtler responses and (2) you'd soon have no friends left to try it on.

But you can certainly invite your buddies over for a movie night, and pop in a couple of flicks that you have seen but they haven't. Then watch them as they lean into the screen, gasp in dismay, or get bored and decide to go make popcorn.

I recommend low lighting for this, and a seating arrangement that does its best to disguise your true motives. After all, people watching is at its best when the watchee doesn't know he's being watched.