Why you should read bad books and watch bad films

If you want to write well, you’re told the best way to do this is to read good books and practice, practice, practice. What you’re not told to do is read the worst books ever written, but that is exactly what you should be doing.

Bad films are also good, especially if you enjoy writing screenplays or even filming and editing your own shorts. Why? Why am I telling you to waste your time on creations that should never have existed in the first place?

Because then you know exactly what NOT to do, which is arguably just as valuable as knowing what you should do.

Also, if you’re reading/watching something excellent, it’s very likely you’ll be swept up in it. That is what we want in a good story, after all–we want to forget everything besides the little world in front of us. If what you’re consuming is awful, you’ll notice every excruciating second of it, and that’s what you want.

Bad films like The Room,  or anything Neil Breen has made (sorry Neil, but you need to learn how real people work) are a very good study in bad dialogue, bad plot, and confusing details. Assassin’s Creed, which I watched last night, is a good example of how not to edit action scenes because if you have that many fast, close up shots, no one can tell what the hell is happening.

Bad books are more difficult to list, as they are so much harder to read–you actually have to put in the effort. But there is lazy writing everywhere. Even in some very well-loved books. Twilight is supposedly poorly written (it is on my reading list, one day I will attempt to read it), I did not enjoy the last few books I read of Ranger’s Apprentice (if you’ve read this series, notice how the two female characters become more and more similar and shallow as the books go on–I enjoyed their unique personalities in the first few books, but in the last book I read they might as well have been the same character). If you’re a mature individual (I’ll leave that up to you to judge), then listening to the podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno is a very good example of inconsistent writing, plotholes, strange dialogue and how exactly the female reproductive tract does NOT work (You cannot grab a cervix. I’m sorry, you just can’t). It’s also hilarious.

As in the case of My Dad Wrote a Porno, listening or watching people critique bad films and books is very useful. It’s also faster–you don’t have to actually read or watch the drivel in question, or even spend time pondering why you hate it so much. Although, there’s something to be said about spending time thinking about what sucks.

All in all, at least you’ll spend a lot of time laughing. A lot of truly awful stuff is accidentally very funny, hence why cult favourites are a thing.

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