I watch a good amount of reality television when I have the time and I’m a big fan of some of the fabricated drama. Yes, I know it’s all created for the show and it isn’t as ‘real’ as the producers want me to believe. And yet, I curl up on my couch ready to be sucked into it all each season.
It’s all about the ‘tea’, if you ask me!
According to the Urban Dictionary, ‘Tea’ is slang for
“Gossip, juicy news, pivotal info about something that went down recently. Origin stems from ‘Tea Time’ with a small group of ladies who would sit and share 411. Term became increasingly popular amongst the African-American gay community and thus the African American community as a whole.”
You get the drift.
For ‘tea’ to be considered tasty and not just hot water, the listener or for our purposes, the reader, has to be somewhat invested in the characters–the person(s) about whom the tea is being spilled.
Add to that, the tea has to be juicy. We live in an era when almost anything that could happen, has happened. The average individual isn’t easily surprised anymore and that’s because they’ve seen or heard everything before.
And yet, consumers like me turn back to the same types of stories over and over. We get attached to the characters, picking sides–joining teams. This despite the repetitive issues raised on these shows.
How many times can we watch a reality tv show where a couple is dealing with commitment issues? Or, where grown women argue over something senseless as whether one returned a borrowed dress or not? Somehow, these plot points never fail to entertain us.
So, what’s a simple story-teller to do when they want to spill some sweet tea in their books?
Well, I think authors need to deliver new and exciting tea about their characters. It can be in the form of a bombshell about them or someone tied to them. It can also be a revelation about an ongoing situation. A bombshell that moves the plot and throws the main character and others ‘off’. You want your reader to go ‘Woah!’
The revelation just has to be believable enough. One that relates to the human experience that we all share.
If not, the author loses her audience.
The constant reveals must move the plot forward to be compelling and to keep the reader entertained. Sprinkle ‘tea’ drops along the plot. Explicitly have your character marvel at the realizations or fear them.
Have your character react to the tea. So much of the entertainment will surround the reactions to these revelations.
When that happens, the story will serve juicy tea that the readers won’t want to walk away from.