Aliens Have Taken Over My Manuscript!

For the past week, I’ve been binging on episodes of Roswell from Amazon Prime. The way I see it, storytelling is storytelling, and, even if it’s a story about alien teenagers in a small town in New Mexico, if it’s told well, I’m going to be entertained. Plus, I’m a firm believer in the concepts of reading-is-learning and inspiration-is-everywhere. You can learn from just about anything as long as you’re paying attention, and sometimes watching someone else’s story can show you how you can improve your own.

The premise of Roswell is that three alien teenagers have been secretly living in Roswell, New Mexico, but when a random shooting threatens the life of a regular small town girl, one alien risks exposure to save her life. From there, the trio of alien teens become romantically involved with a trio regular teens, which, these days, would be enough drama for a full season.

But wait! There’s more!

G-men are aware that strange things are afoot in Roswell, so on top of raging hormones, jealous boyfriends, and questions like does-he-like-me-like-me? are the additional issues of federal agents, suppressed memories from the day the UFO crashed, and one particularly inquisitive sheriff who’s just trying to do his job.

Watching the series unfold, you quickly get the sense that there’s a story arc that goes beyond each episode. And, as episode after episode plays, you understand that it isn’t the story of the injured small town girl and the alien who saves her who make the show binge-worthy, it’s everything else. Like the fact that the ex-boyfriend’s dad is the town sheriff, or that two of the aliens have been adopted by a nice family but the third lives in a rundown shack with a dad who doesn’t care about him. The show is littered with little dramas that ratchet up the tension, and a couple of episodes in, let you realize that the writers aren’t going to give these characters a break any time soon.  

Roswell is my current guilty pleasure, but it’s also a device to help me understand plot mechanics. What guilty pleasures to do you turn to for inspiration?


PS: Suede To Rest in 139 days!

Author: Diane Vallere

Diane is the author of four mystery series. Like her character Samantha Kidd, she is a former fashion buyer; like her character Madison Night, she loves Doris Day movies, like her character Polyester Monroe, she lives in California; and like her character Margo Tamblyn, she has a thing for costumes. Find out more at

13 thoughts on “Aliens Have Taken Over My Manuscript!”

  1. For a while it was Burn Notice, but then it go too ridiculous. White Collar. I love dissecting anything by Joss Whedon for plot tactics. And based on this description, I might have to put Roswell on my list.


  2. I loved Roswell (well, until the last season when they jumped the shark a bit). And Burn Notice, too! I agree with Mary, Joss Whedon is great. For inspiration, I always fall back to my favorite book series; I hadn’t thought about using TV.


  3. Pamela, I’m still enjoying season one, so not at the shark jumping point yet! Sometimes I find going back to watch the first episode of a sitcom that lasted for years is a great learning experience. Like Frasier, or Friends. Watching how the character were set up–and then seeing how they stayed true to that initial vision–is another way to learn.


  4. I have entirely too many guilty pleasures. A new channel is doing X-Files reruns, and this always draws me in. Somewhat related to Roswell. Ever been to the museum there?


  5. You had me at the title. Tee hee! Very thoughtful post, Diane. I haven’t seen Roswell but will add it to my wishlist for future viewing. (Love Amazon Prime!)

    Right now, I’m doing my annual pre-season binge-watch of True Blood (season premiere this week, woot!). Over the course of the show, the complexities of characters you initially thought were one-dimensional unfold in fascinating ways. Plus every so often, there would be something so surprising. Gasp! WHAT JUST HAPPENED?

    Second the votes for X-Files and All Things Whedon…anyone else watching Marvel’s Agents of Shield, btw? That’s one of the few things the whole family will watch…another one with awesome unexpected twists.


  6. I love aliens, so will have to check out Roswell! My guilty pleasure is Downton Abbey. I’m a sucker for a good soap opera/family drama!


  7. Cynthia, we watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. We were really angry when we found out , but really it catapulted the show into overdrive, so we forgave Whedon. I guess somebody had to turn out to be not what he/she seemed, huh?


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