k-dramas: the winning formula (plus, your weekly mood-lifters!)

Despite my efforts to focus on writing Neverland, I finally decided to watch You Who Came from the Stars last week.

(Not that I’m validating my drama obsession, but I’ve found the more material I expose myself to – be it books or TV shows or music – the easier it is to coax the plot bunnies out, and the easier the words flow when I work on my stories. So I shall stick to this line of reasoning whenever I feel guilty about watching dramas when I could be writing. At least I’m not obsessively watching all the episodes in a day! Right? I totally pace myself – one episode a day – if only to make the show last longer.)

So it’s no secret that ever since Secret Garden,

I’ve been properly sold over by Korean dramas. I don’t watch a lot of them, though, just those that come highly recommended – and even then I don’t always follow through *cough* 49 Days *cough cough* Lie To Me.

But Secret Garden was INCREDIBLE. Thanks, Felicia, for recommending it! I am forever grateful.

It had a great story line: an arrogant CEO who, due to an fateful misunderstanding – falls in love with a poor stunt-woman?

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Toss in a narcissistic washed-out pop star:

A body switch (a plot device done to death, but so funny in the hands of scriptwriter Kim Eun Sook):

A traumatic repressed memory that links the two leads together dramatically and you get a recipe for an undeniably entertaining series.

Plus, it’s got one of the most beautiful soundtracks I’ve ever heard for a k-drama – perhaps even THE most beautiful:

And a very watchable cast … by which I mean:

Hyun Bin! ❤

And, okay, her too:

Ha Ji Won

And the dialogue is simply hysterical:

It was all SO ENTIRELY PERFECT that I wrote a script for EN3271 Advanced Playwriting influenced by the mood of Secret Garden, and a novel, Until Morning, that was – I hope! – as funny and bittersweet and dramatic and whimsical as the drama.

Don’t you just love stories that inspire you to write your own stories?

Anyway, after Secret Garden and Heirs, I hadn’t really found another drama that I HAD to follow, mostly because I’m picky when it comes to dramas (and wouldn’t you be, if you were going to spend hours watching an entire series?): is the cast watchable, are the characters layered, is the story cliched, is the dialogue snappy or funny or insightful? I’ve tried watching a few since Heirs, including Bel Ami, starring Jang Geun Suk, but got bored after two episodes.

You Who Came From the Stars, though, is funnier and more gripping than I’d expected. I thought it was completely ridiculous at first. A 400-year-old alien (yes, really – think Clark Kent instead of E.T.) who is stuck on Earth and is finally about to go back to his own planet, but then he falls for this narcissistic actress who reminds him of his first love and things get complicated?

But with a murder subplot to keep things moving and raise the stakes, I haven’t been able to extricate myself from the drama since episode 2!

Actual dialogue from the drama! The female character is a bit on the psychotic side.

I’m on episode 13 now, so no spoilers if you’ve watched the latest episodes already! I’ll have to start looking for the next drama to get sucked into, though.

Find another, that’s what!

Any other recommendations?

While we’re on the topic of the success formula of k-dramas, here’s another cogent breakdown.


Also, I started reading Fathomless, by Jackson Pearce over the weekend.

And can I just say, I am SO in love with this book! I read her earlier novels, Sisters Red (Red Riding Hood retelling):

And Sweetly (Hansel and Gretel retelling):

They were enjoyable enough, but didn’t really wow me in terms of plot or prose. Maybe because I have an obsession with mermaids – along with Peter Pan and the Little Prince and winged beasties – but Fathomless TOTALLY does it for me.

Plus, the prose is so much prettier this time, the setting painted more vividly. Jackson Pearce’s niche is fairytale retellings, and even though Fathomless is a retelling of The Little Mermaid, it has a very original plot without veering too much from the original story.

Jackson Pearce, nailed it

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So I raced down to the library yesterday and borrowed Cold Spell (The Snow Queen retelling) too:

Can’t wait to delve into this too! Big yay for folks who write good books!


A little random, but lately, there’s this song that keeps buzzing in my head:

Gulliver, by Super Junior

I found this song COMPLETELY IRRITATING at first. But after hearing Donghae’s rapping bit at 1:15, I can’t get it out of my head. Dayyyum, that voice! (He’s the one on the left with the pretty face and nice guns, in case you’re wondering.)

Okay, okay. I’m done fangirling.


I’m still not done reading Laini’s old blog – there are just too many things to learn from her, too much to enjoy!

For today, this:

… be willing to change anything and everything about the idea you thought you had. Nothing is set in stone. There’s a natural impulse to grip onto whatever your initial idea for the story was, but don’t. It may be that the reason you’re stuck is that there wasn’t enough there to begin with, or that it wasn’t quite right. If it was, you wouldn’t be stuck, right?

You have be rigorous. You don’t sit around waiting for the perfect idea to land on you like a butterfly. You go after it with a net. You climb out to the end of slender tree branches reaching for it.

Basically: think think think. Think in writing. Think far past anything you’ve come up with so far. Be willing to discard any of your fixed “sacred” ideas. Be willing even to tear down the very foundation of your story and replace it with something new, if that’s what you have to do.

I don’t know if she’ll ever see this, but THANK YOU, Laini, for sharing all your writing wisdom with us, and all your encouragements. I ❤ you big time.


And now for some pretty:

Tsaritsyno Park in Moscow, Russia
Umbrella lights!

And some happy

Owl cookies!

And some funnies:

Miss The O.C.!

Have a great week, everyone! :0)