Wait—Can You Actually Become A Better Writer Just By Binge-Watching Your Favorite Netflix Shows? Yup, here’s how…
From reading fiction novels, to listening to true crime podcasts, to binge watching your favorite movies on Netflix…
Creative inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes.
But when it comes to Television… doesn’t it just rot your brain and destroy creativity?..
There’s this massive misconception going around that creatives should never watch TV… or that we should spend all our free time doing something “productive” (like reading business books, studying programs, or taking online classes)…
But here’s the thing…
Storytellers learn how to tell better stories by consuming great stories.
Reading, listening, or watching… the way you consume the story doesn’t matter!
And in fact, when done correctly, watching TV can massively improve your writing and marketing skills!
But it’s not as simple as just plopping in front of the TV with a big bucket of popcorn and a pint of ice cream…
…I know, bummer right?
There are actually 5 elements of the cinematic experience that you need to pay special attention to… if you want to gain a massive creative edge.
And in today’s article, we’ll go over all 5 elements—and as a fun little bonus—at the end of this video… me and the rest of The Copy Posse team have compiled a list of our absolute favorite shows and movies…
From rom coms to animated series to thrillers and everything in between… for you to take inspiration from.
Hey, Posse! What’s up? It’s Alex!
Coming at you this week with another unconventional method for improving your copywriting skills.
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Now… the explosion of streaming apps—like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, and countless others—has been both a blessing and a curse for us creatives…
Because like all things in life… it all comes down to how you choose to use—or abuse—it.
And I’ll tell ya right now, that “zoning out” in front of the TV for hours and hours on end will do you absolutely zero favors. Unless a new season of Drag Race is on, then all is forgiven…
If you want to actually benefit from the films, shows, and performances you enjoy watching most… then you need to learn how to become an active participant in the experience.
Or in other words: You need to start watching TV through the eyes of a writer.
And there are 5 elements of the cinematic experience in particular that, when observed carefully, can enhance your storytelling, improve your copywriting, and explode your creativity.
The first thing you need to pay attention to is…
1. The Logline
A logline is that juicy one-liner that describes what a movie or show is about.
The logline is to film what the HOOK is to copywriting. It’s EVERYTHING.
As a copywriter, you know that your hook is the single most important element of your entire piece…
I mean, if you can nail the hook, the rest of your copy practically writes itself!
So it goes without saying that, as copywriters, we can learn A LOT from the loglines of movies and TV shows.
Each and every logline is carefully crafted with one purpose in mind… to hook you into watching.
But in screenwriting, a logline isn’t just about getting a viewer to click play… It’s also the deciding factor in whether or not a producer picks up the film at all!
According to Black Snyder in Save The Cat, a good logline “answers the ‘what is it?’ question clearly & enticingly.”
Most well-crafted loglines will state the central conflict of the story and provide some sort of an emotional “hook” to stimulate interest.
Like this one from Schitt’s Creek:
“Suddenly broke, the formerly filthy-rich Rose family is reduced to living in a ramshackle motel in a town they bought as a joke: Schitt’s Creek.”
Now Netflix is literally a smorgasbord of amazing hooks & titles for you to study and learn from.
So start studying the titles and descriptions that catch your interest.
See if you can pinpoint WHY it captivated you and remember to use those same attention-grabbing methods in your own hooks and headlines.
Okay, next up…
2. Open Loops
We’re ALL familiar with those dang cliffhangers at the end of our favorite TV shows.
Wait… Rachel’s still in love with Ross and is flying to London to tell him?! OMG will she make it before the wedding?
Wait… Jon Snow was killed?! What will happen now? He was supposed to save the north and winter is here!
But regardless of how frustrated and antsy we might feel… There’s a powerful lesson that we can learn as copywriters…
Which is how to craft effective open loops.
In marketing, an open loop is any concept or idea that forces the brain to seek out some sort of conclusion.
It piques curiosity and you just can’t help but click (or continue watching) in order to close that loop that’s been opened in the brain.
I mean this is why so many people end up binge-watching their favorite series in a single weekend! They need answers!
And as copywriters… we can (and should) be using open loops in our headlines as well as closing and opening new loops continuously throughout the body of our copy…
In other words… If you want to keep people interested in reading, then you need to give them a reason or motivation to keep reading…
Here’s an example from Numerologist.com…
This email is basically one open loop after another, as soon as one loop is closed… another is opened…
All the way to the end of the email where you have to click in order to close that final open loop…
So while you’re watching your favorite TV shows… take a mental note of the open loops that are strategically placed before each and every commercial break, or at the very end of each episode.
What exactly is it that’s keeping you watching? What loop are you looking to close?
Okay now… next up on my list is going to be especially useful for strengthening your copywriting skills…
3. Descriptive Storytelling
What do really great TV shows and movies all have in common?
They have all mastered the art of transporting you out of your living room… and into an entirely different world, they’ve created. And they do this through extremely thorough sensory detail… the lighting, the music, the dialogue, the carefully designed costumes, and landscaping…
They all play a pivotal role in your cinematic experience.
But all of this can be replicated just as well… if not better… through great writing. I mean think about it… there’s a reason that books turned into movies can often fall flat in the eyes of the fans…
And that’s because great storytelling evokes all your senses with beautiful descriptive storytelling.
If something impacts you… consider why?
- What was it about that scene that made you feel sad, happy, or angry?
- What elements of the movie made you feel transported to a different time & place?
Sometimes I even rewatch certain scenes to really break down what it was that left such an impression on me.
Once you start appreciating the descriptive detail in the shows & movies you watch… your writing will naturally begin to improve as a result.
And bonus: This can even be a super fun way of performing some research for a project!
Writing a Sales Page for an exotic spa located on a beautiful tropical island?
What better way to really nail your descriptive storytelling than by watching a movie that takes place in a similar setting?!
Okay, now all ad writers can learn a thing or two about this next one on the list…
4. Teasers & Trailers
Movie teasers and trailers are all great ways to help you improve your marketing skills…
I mean think about it, trailers are literally trying to sell you on something… which is watching the full show or movie…
So they need to evoke our curiosity and get us invested in the story they’re selling… without giving away too much or closing any loops…
Like THE trailer from the 1975 Horror Film… JAWS. This trailer is so powerful—I mean, in just 35 seconds I was completely hooked!
And aside from the moody scene and visuals—the biggest impact is being made through the narrative.
If you extracted just the words being said and used it as the hook in an ad or upsell email… just think how captivating that would be!
And you can find tons more ad writing inspiration, just like this, everywhere you look…
So think… What movie trailers really capture your attention? Which ones do you add to your “watch next” list?
Stop playing these things off as “good trailer making” and start appreciating them for the great ads that they really are! Maybe even take down some notes to use as inspiration in your own writing.
And speaking of notetaking… that brings me to the last (and maybe my favorite) tip on the list…
5. STOP Working & Start Recharging
I know, I know… I specifically said not to “zone out” in front of the TV for hours on end – and I stand by that statement!
But, hey—I’m also not trying to make watching TV into yet another “chore” or task to add on your to-do list! At the end of the day… watching your favorite shows and movies should be a treat that you thoroughly enjoy doing.
So please don’t take this video as an excuse to overanalyze anything and everything you watch!
Sometimes, the best way a movie night can improve your writing skills is by simply giving you some time to turn off your distractions, unwind, and recharge your batteries!
And there’s no shame in that.
So next time you tune into your fav rom-com… lose the guilt, drop the expectations, and allow yourself to fully enjoy the experience!
Now, I’m SUPER CURIOUS… What’s your favorite movie of all time? Drop a comment below to let me know…
And as promised… Here’s a list of our 10 favs, directly from all the members inside The Copy Posse team.
- How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days
- The Italian Job
- Love Death + Robots
- He’s Just Not That Into You
- Promising Young Woman
- The Holiday
- The Ocean’s series
- The Before Trilogy
So the next time someone criticizes you for watching TV, just tell them you’re doing research.
Until next time, I’m Alex—ciao for now!
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