Writers… Lessons we can all learn from Downton Abbey!

We don’t have a working TV in our apartment so I tend to be a wee bit behind when it comes to TV shows. I’m what you might call a laggard in that regard, and hence I’ve only  *just* got bitten by Downton Abbey fever.



It’s Author Lauren Clark’s fault :) I’d heard the hype about the show from several places, but it wasn’t until Lauren told me that “even her husband loved it”, and I just had to watch it that I was sold. She even sent me the link to stream it from Hulu which just about sealed the deal. And now I’m hooked.


What is it about the show that has captivated both sides of the pond more than most period dramas? And what makes the story SO good? I think us writers can all learn a lesson (or three) from Julian Fellowes, the writer of the show. Here’s what I’ve boiled it down to and I’d love to hear your thoughts:


Baddies that you love to hate (William, O’Brien)

Goodies that you love to love (Lord Grantham, Matthew, Mrs Patmore, Anna)

Sibling rivalry (Mary vs Edith)

A love story simmering in the background – Mary and Matthew

The tension – talk about a lot at stake! A grand old mansion and a fortune is quite a lot to lose

The backdrop of the Titanic, World War I to create an unstable setting

The changing of the times – the invention of electricity, the car, the telephone, and beginning of women’s rights

–  The quintessential English country house, complete with class system and all

“How the other half live” – Sort of like an older version of The Kardashians, I find myself wondering what it would be like to have my meals cooked for me, my hair curled by a maid, to be dressed each evening for dinner and to not know how to make a cup of tea!

Dry humor to balance even the most serious of plot-lines – Grandma Violet cracks me up with her snide jokes and witty come backs!


What did I miss? What makes the story so gripping for you (or, what is it lacking?) Leave your thought in the comments!


p.s. Anyone else notice it never seems to rain at Downton even though it’s set in Yorkshire? I suppose it is historical “fiction”…

Laura Pepper Wu is the co-founder of 30 Day Books: a book studio. She has worked with a variety of authors to successfully promote their books, including many Amazon best-sellers. Laura is the author of wedding non-fiction guides and book marketing guides 77 Ways to Find New Readers for Your Self-Published Book and Fire Up Amazon!

Laura also runs Ladies Who Critique, a critique-partner finding site. When she's not working at the studio, you can find her walking her dog, "yoga-ing" or at a coffee shop in Seattle.


  • http://twitter.com/LaurenClark_Bks Lauren Clark (@LaurenClark_Bks)

    Squee! I am so excited that you finally watched the brilliant series, Downton Abbey! I cannot say enough good things about the show :) It’s so full of dramatic tension and surprises….the plot moves right along and keeps you hooked. Great stuff for writers looking for inspiration. I cannot wait for Season 3 this September.

  • http://twitter.com/wrtrdoll Christine Locke (@wrtrdoll)

    The aching loss of the end of the first season: they lost the baby AND it was a boy. I even felt for O’Brien’s agony at what she had done. They really got the emotional tone right, and that’s hard to do. So glad to hear there’s a season three!

  • http://www.30daybooks.com 30 Day Books

    Spoiler alert! ;) Yes, my heart hurt watching that. There seems to be just enough drama without being dramatic, if that makes sense.

  • http://wordnerdguy.com/ WordNerdGuy

    As a Downton Abbey luvr, I really enjoyed this piece. T’would seem one couldn’t go wrong making sure to throw in a healthy pinch of each of these little tidbits.

  • Mary

    My favorite is the domineering matriarch Lady Violet played by the wonderful Maggie Smith. Unfortunately, Dame Maggie will be leaving the show, ;(.

  • http://www.30daybooks.com 30 Day Books

    Really! How disappointing :(

  • http://twitter.com/themiamijones A.J. Stewart

    Study Jane Austen, film beautifully, shoot on sunny days. Voila! All great points Laura.