Learning from Reality TV?

The NBC singing competition show THE VOICE is good teaching tool for writers – or for anyone who has to present any sort of programming in front of a group.

Self-confidence, projection, belief in the material, presentation and even storytelling. It’s all there.

The Blind Auditions/Manuscript Submission Pile/The Pitch

At first, it’s only about The Voice. The four coaches sit with their backs to the stage and just listen to the music. They don’t know what the singer looks like. They may even know the singer already but don’t recognize the person’s voice, as with Christina Aguilera and fellow former Mousketeer Tony Lucca in Season 2.

Granted, singers at the Blind Audition stage have received invitations, so they’ve been through a screening process. Same with the Submission Pile or the ebook listings, if you’ve gone indie and are out in the marketplace.  All that really matters to any decision maker – whether they’re judges or buyers — at this point is the Voice/the story.

Marketability isn’t part of the question – yet.

The critiques

The coaches, after hitting the “I WANT YOU” button – or not – have a chance to explain why or why not.

Some publishing gatekeepers do take time to comment, but most are so swamped with manuscripts that they don’t have the time or the energy.

That said, which one of the following comments do you think is from THE VOICE? And which do you think is from agent/editor rejection letters?

  • “You were comfortable up there.”
  • “You were pitchy.”
  • “Not my thing.”
  • “Your voice is strong, and I want more.”
  • “This needs more work.”

The Battle Rounds/The Market Place Lite

Two singers perform a short duet which is less about the material and more about the duel. The coaches pick the winner, usually the one with the best stage presence and performs the song the best.

Two manuscripts slip over the transom. A two-manuscript day would be remarkable for overwhelmed publishing screeners, but go along with me here so we can keep the metaphor afloat. They often decide on the basis of the title and the first page alone. Does it grab interest?

Actually, if this were THE VOICE, the coach would have to pick one to save, even if neither performance is up to par. Agents-and-editors? They can reject all.

Season 2 cast members Tony Vincent and Justin Hopkins duke it out for Coach CeeLo Green’s nod, but pay attention to the critiques. Click on the link above for the video. Apologies if and when NBC takes it down.

Decision makers

The Voice coaches, when they have to choose one singer over the other, say find themselves in a pickle. They do show regret and remorse and some affection for the singers on their teams. However, one has reportedly picked a team winner in advance and strategically pitted that singer against the others so that chosen one would remain standing at the end. Some of the coaches look toward a singer’s future versatility in this malleable period before Brands have formed.

The Live Shows/The MarketPlace

The public decides with votes and purchases. In publishing, Likes and Follows are nice but what counts are the purchases. Money talks.

Actually, pretty much like those final episodes of The Voice.

The Voice as teaching tool

What the judges say to their teams can apply to writers. A singer in the moment with the song and working the stage can make a favorable impression. It’s possible to win an audience, but lose the judges. Or vice versa. Details and a big picture view matter.

It all shows up in The Voice — and on the page.

Have you learned anything helpful from reality TV? Feel free to tell us in the Comments section below.

6 Comments
  • Nancy Gardner
    September 7, 2012

    Very interesting take, Rhonda. I’ll have to check “The Voice” out! Thanks!

    • Rhonda Lane
      September 7, 2012

      Thanks, Nancy. Be careful, though. “The Voice” can become addictive. Thanks for stopping by and saying “hi.”

  • Gerri Brousseau
    September 10, 2012

    Hi Rhonda,
    I agree. I think this applies to anyone who wishes to put their talent out to the public, be that singers or writers. Great post.

    • Rhonda Lane
      September 10, 2012

      Thanks, Gerri. The Voice offers us a lot of lessons, no matter what our medium. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • Gail C.
    September 10, 2012

    Interesting take on the The Voice and “the process”. And yes, I recognize those remarks, both from the show (I’m an addict) and from the submission process.

    • Rhonda Lane
      September 10, 2012

      Hi, Gail – I’ve been hooked on The Voice since the beginning, too. It’s easy for us to throw our hearts up onstage with those singers. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

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