An unusual writer’s resource – QI
It started because I wanted to dust off my English – because reading and writing is all right, but you need to keep your ear trained for the spoken language.
So I went for a few BBC programs available on Youtube. People talking, with a variety of accents.
Talk shows, comedy shows, and panel shows.
Now, panel shows are something that does not exist in my country.
Basically it is a bunch of guys and girls – usually TV personalities, stand up comedians and actors – sitting around and talking about some kind of subject, following some kind of loose TV game show format.
It was as I was looking for these shows that I discovered one of the best – and most idiosincratic – writer resources on the web.
It’s a show called QI (short for Quite Interesting) and it’s simply great.
Now, when you are a writer – or try to be one, or plan to be one or… OK, anyway – one thing you might need is a nice selection of trivia. Small facts you can use to spice your stories, or as story seeds, or as red herrings.
Because remember, writing is a con game, in which we try and convince our readers we know everything, while in fact we are making up two thirds of the stuff on the page, and wing the remaining third.
A single bit of information goes a long way to certify our competence, and helps the reader suspend his disbelief.
And you need the same sort of small bits of detail for game designing, too – because players love that sort of stuff.
That’s the reason why a steady diet of TV documentaries and non-fiction books is absolutely essential.
QI, originally hosted bt Stephen Fry, is a show that makes trivia its central concern.
As you can see from the snippets I’m using to illustrate this post, the 45-minutes episodes are a treasure trove of unusual facts, wild conjecture, smart and tongue-in-cheek digressions, jokes and general intellectual knavery.
Which is exactly what we are looking for.
Ideas can be found anywhere. And QI has a very high concentration of those.