Wednesday, July 12, 2017

How Do You Come Up With This Stuff By Patty Smith Hall


Several weeks ago, I helped my cousin’s second grade class complete an English project. In the days before my visit, the kids were assigned to come up with a list of characters and setting for a story that we would complete together in class. The day of my visit arrived. Over the next hour, the kids and I weaved an imaginative story filled with battles and learning right from wrong and the power of a grandmother’s love.

Once we finished and the kids were assigned their new project, I sat down with another cousin who decided to visit that day.

“How do you do that?” she asked after the usual inquiries about grandchildren. “I mean, how do you come up with that stuff?”

I wasn’t sure I could tell her it all started with Batman.

Now, I’m not talking about the George Cooney-Ben Afleck-Val Kilmer caped crusader. I’m going old school with the campy television version starring Adam West and Burt Ward as the dynamic duo! With a right hook(BAM!) and a left upper cut(KAPOW!) these caped crusaders cleaned up Gotham City every week from the likes of the Joker, the Penguin and Catwoman.

But for me, Batman was so much more. It sparked my imagination for the first time in my young life. Many Sunday afternoons while on long boring drives with my parents, I’d step into the fantasy world of Gotham City, coming up with different stories with Batman and Robin. And of course, me.

Silly, I know, but looking back, I realized how much I learned about storytelling basics from the show—romantic conflict(Batman and Catwoman’s charged relationship,) chapter breaks(how would the dynamic duo escape the Riddler’s clutches THIS time?) and satisfying endings(the caped crusaders save the day!)

What were some of your favorite TV shows when you were growing up?





A multi-published author with Love Inspired Historical and Barbour, Patty lives in North Georgia with her husband of 30+ years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters, her son-in-love and a grandboy who has her wrapped around his tiny finger. When she’s not writing on her back porch, she’s spending time with her family or working in her garden. 

20 comments:

  1. Hi Patty! I loved Batman too (the television show) as well as The Monkees and The Brady Bunch, not to mention Gilligan's Island. The original Star Trek was a staple. With the bounty of retro tv these days, it's a hoot to see the old episodes. Some make me shake my head and wonder what I liked so much about them, but hubby and I still love the old Batman series.

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    1. Christine, we watched all the same shows!

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  2. I loved the original Batman. You are so right about how it teaches us plot and conflict. I wanted to be Cat Woman. That and sitting Wal-Mart on a Saturday afternoon can teach us a lot!

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  3. I loved some of the old Westerns. Anyone remember Wagon Train? Bonanza? Even Gunsmoke, which is really going back a long, long way. I lived in Japan for three years when I was a child. Every SAT the Army theater played cowboy flicks for the kids' matinee. I was there just about every SAT...along with hundreds of other children. We cheered for Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, the Lone Ranger, the Cisco Kid. Actually, we learned a bit of American history from many of those films...and that history continued when I returned to the States and watched cowboy heroes on TV. I still remember some of those stories about the Donner Pass and Judge Roy Bean, Billy the Kid, and others.

    Thanks for bringing so many fun memories to mind today, Patty!

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  4. I think the old television Catwoman was one of my first real imaginary heroines too Patty! Yes, I know she was supposed to be evil. But in my imagination she was a double agent. I liked how strong, smart and powerful she was. I used to make up stories about the Dukes of Hazzard too - oh so many stories. I was living in North Carolina at the time, and I'd invent a new female characters for them who could race cars even better than the Duke boys. I also learned a lot back them from reading Archie comics, and used to edit them so that the characters said what I wanted them to say. I was always changing the stories around me, even as a child.

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  5. Like Debby, I liked the old westerns like Gunsmoke and Bonanza.

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  6. I join you and Christine as a fan of the original Batman and also agree with Christine's choice of Gilligan's Island. Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Flipper and Mr. Ed were also favorites. I have been lucky enough to meet a couple of actresses from those shows: Dawn Wells and Barbara Eden are both lovely ladies who have performed at our local dinner theatre in recent years and graciously came out to meet guests after the show.

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  7. I'm with Debby. Bonanza and Gunsmoke (on special occasions I was allowed to stay up "late" to watch it) and Little House on the Prairie.

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  10. I love watching old movies/shows and studying their plots. I gained my most insight from Debra Dixon's book "Goal, Motivation, Conflict." I read it on the plane home after attending my first RWA National Conference years ago and it totally transformed me. She uses movies/shows as excellent examples just like you and I couldn't believe how it opened my eyes to "see" how to plot and come up with story lines. Thanks for furthering my knowledge. :)

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  11. I loved Batman too! Petty Coat Junction, Star Trek, I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched, Gilliagan's Island, Lost in Space and Mash.
    Sounds like fun with kids!

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  12. I love a lot of the shows you guys mentioned especially Petticoat Junction and I Dream of Jeanie. I met Larry Hagman a few years before he passed at the Ewing Barbeque (my husband is a huge fan of Dallas) and shared how much I loved Jeanie as a child. Dallas, not so much!

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  13. Hogans heroes, keeping up appearances, astro boy, noddy, batman, fireman sam, postman pat, disney saturday movies like herbie, bewitched, i love jeannie, sabrina teenage witch, spaghetti westerns starring bud spencer n terrence hill just to name a few

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  14. Loved Batman growing up. I used to watch it at my aunt's house. Bewitched and I dream of Jeannie were a close second.

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  15. I watched Batman too when I was young. That might be one reason I lean toward suspense and action.

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  16. For me it was the movie the 'Vikings' with Kirk Douglas. (My age is showing.) I hated who the heroine picked. I rewrote the ending. I kept rewriting the ending of movies I didn't like. When I saw 'Speed' I only saw the romance. When the hero stayed on the train with the heroine that was the definition of a love story for me.

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  17. If you are Batman fans (like me), do check out the Lego Batman movie. It's clever and funny, and there are lots of little sight gags and in jokes I'm sure no kid ever catches. Especially if you are a Whovian like myself (Daleks!!!). Great fun. And several cheeky nods to the old-school Caped Crusader, too.

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  18. I was a Trekkie...Still am. In fact, I remember in high school attempting to write a Star Trek novel. Didn't get very far on that one. but that didn't stop my imagination. Another show I loved to imagine stories for was the short lived series The Voyagers!

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  19. My son and I watched all the Batman's (Adam West). We've also watched (because I hate the choices of today when it comes to sitting next to my 12 year old) Leave it to Beaver, Get Smart, The Andy Griffith Show, and Adam 12. We've just started the Twilight Zone.

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