The “cheat codes” to creating a masterpiece as a writer

I have been watching lots of South Korean dramas for over five years now and as a writer, I can’t help but notice how super talented these people are when it comes to the film industry. From the scriptwriting, to the acting, to the cinematography and just anything else that makes them create these masterpieces called Korean dramas. While watching these dramas, there were some fascinating novel writing tips I observed and so, I decided to share them with you.

My goal for this article is to encourage myself and other upcoming writers to produce more quality contents rather than the overused cliches imitated by old storytelling habits.

So, I present to you, the four writing hacks I learnt from watching Korean dramas:

일 (1) The characters are what determines a good story, not the storyline

Although this first point can be open to controversy, we cannot deny the fact that characters who leave little to no impression on their readers make a story less memorable. Generally, what determines a good story depends on the person reading or writing the piece of work. But one thing Korean dramas have taught me is that interesting characters make an interesting story. I have watched a good number of Korean dramas with absurd storylines but very entertaining and well put-together characters that made the entire series worth watching.

Here are a few examples to prove my point. Let’s begin with the character of Ko Mun-yeong from It’s Okay Not to be Okay (2020). Anyone who has watched this series would know that Ko Mun-yeong is undoubtably one of the most interesting female lead characters in the Korean drama world. Why? Because she was crazy- fun crazy. She battled with antisocial personality disorder and childhood traumas that led her to making some irrational decisions which had a huge impact on the storyline. Having a lead character who is not only unique but real makes a story worth reading, and watching.

Another character example is that of the almighty Vincenzo Cassano in Vincenzo (2021). Besides being disturbingly sexy, one interesting fact about this character was that he was a protagonist with the mind of a villain. The tricks and mind games he played in getting his revenge on his enemies were unpredictable and new, which rarely occurred in any other drama series I have watched. A character that breaks the norm of what an “ideal” lead character should be like makes a story worth reading too.

Anyways, to summarize everything I have explained here into one simple sentence (after wasting two minutes of your precious time): make your characters interesting, it will do magic to your work.

이 (2) “Humour” will keep your readers engaged

One of the things that made me fall in love with Korean dramas is how funny they are. Generally, South Koreans are fond of adding humour to their movies and TV series, regardless of the genre. And this is exactly what keeps viewers like me engaged and consistent with their contents. Because of this, I would advise writers to include humour into their stories, when necessary, so that the story will not be too serious, which could eventually bore your readers at some point. You may think “but I am a writer, not a comedian.” Well, the truth of the matter is that, as a writer, you’re automatically an actress, comedian, preacher and movie director on paper, because of the way the content is produced. So, if you have the talent to make your readers feel fear or feel emotional when reading your work, then you do have the talent to make them laugh too. Plus, humour is a skill that can be learnt through practice and repetition. Fake it until you make it.

삼 (3) “Thievery” is a masterpiece

Sounds like a crime? Well… it is. And this is the hack that I am going to get arrested for (by other writers not the police). So, I am about to expose a top secret that no other writer will tell you about. And that is…

…Almost every piece of fiction writing is an act of thievery.

Well, the real OGs know this. And now you’re one of them. Congratulations.

Anyways, most pieces of fiction are either imitations of the work of other writers, or they were ideas stolen from real life events or experiences. But I am only going to talk about the latter; ideas stolen from real life sources. This form of thievery has been one of the greatest weapons for writers like me.

Although I have used this secret hack called “thievery” in some of my previous works, Korean dramas have taught me how incredibly it works. This is because; one, it educates your readers and creates awareness and, two, it thickens the plot of your story. Korean dramas like City Hunter (2011), Healer (2014), Vagabond (2019)and many other action or crime dramas are fictional dramas that portray the dark side of the Korean government in regard to greed, corruption, bribery and the quest for power. It is quite obvious that most of the events in these series were drawn from real life sources combined with the writer’s imagination. Even the legendary Korean movie Parasite (2019) directed by Bong Joon-ho was an art of “thievery” that was inspired from some of his real-life experiences and not his imagination alone. So, to the writers who have run out of ideas or imaginations for their stories, this is the hack or you.

사 (4) Music is the icing on the cake

The power of music to any piece of writing is like thunder in the rain. It gives it effect. Although music has always been the most common hack for any piece of writing, Korean dramas have taught me that no matter how trivial a scene is, music adds flavour to that scene.

I have written some scenes in a book without music that turned out to be basic, but after I rewrote those scenes again while listening to specific songs that match the scene, I can tell you with all honesty that music is the icing on the cake for your imagination. It gives your writing a movie-like experience in your mind. This is a hack that I believe every writer should follow. I would also encourage writers to create a music playlist for any piece of writing they are working on. Then slowly watch how your story goes from basic to a masterpiece.

I hope these 4 hacks have been helpful and would become effective in your writing journey. Like me, you can look out for more writing hacks when watching your favourite movies or TV shows.

One last thing…

Before I end this blog, I have one last secret hack I did not mention and that is: just be yourself. If you feel like these 4 hacks mentioned above do not fit into your writing style, then stick to what works for you. This final point surpasses every other point I have mentioned because you are the god of your own story, and no one can take that power away from you.

How well did you enjoy this story?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 4.8 / 5. Vote count: 4

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Leave a comment