Showing posts with label tv. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tv. Show all posts

Saturday, January 26

Six Things Writers Can Learn From Television

Six Things Writers Can Learn From Television

Today I'm going to talk about 6 things fiction writers can learn from television, but before we get to that I'd like to talk about a fantastic site I just discovered.

Nerdist Writers Panel

I've always wondered what it would be like to be a TV writer so I was ecstatic to learn about the Nerdist Writers Panel podcast. TV writers for shows like Modern Family, Family Guy, The Office, Big Bang Theory talk about their experiences. It's fascinating. Many thanks to Matt Debenham for recommending the site.

6 Things Fiction Writers Can Learn From Television

1. 'You can’t just tell the story of Some Guy. You have to tell the story of THE Guy Who….'

TV is all about the characters, even premise-heavy shows like Burn Notice. Matt Debenham writes:
There have been a dozen shows that tried to replicate the mix of sci-fi and mystery that seemingly made LOST a hit, but the secret to LOST was this: People came for the crazy premise, they stayed for the characters. The writers took time to show us exactly who Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Sayid, Hurley, Charlie, and Claire were. In fact, the flashback structure LOST used from the start was there explicitly to deepen the characters, which the creators knew would then keep us invested in the mystery. People watch because they love to become invested in characters. They love to know them, they love to worry about them, they love to be surprised by them. 6 Things Prose Writers Can Learn From Television)

2. Good Characters are Obsessed and Broken

Great characters are the most DRIVEN and the most DAMAGED. They are active.

An active character is one who:
- wants something
- does something related to those wants
- have what they do in (2) be bad for them.

Rule of thumb: Bad for the character? Great for everyone else!

Example: Walter White from Breaking Bad. Matt writes:
Walter is obsessed with becoming a bigger and bigger player in the meth business. Which is probably a fairly normal trait for someone in the meth business. But Walter is broken because his attachment to meth stems not from money, which was his original version of things (he was dying of cancer and wanted to leave his family with some security after he was gone), but from a desperate need for respect. Family doesn’t really enter into it. Walter White is driven by pride — to the degree that he continues on despite the bodies and ruined lives and broken relationships piling up around him. Walter’s obsession is what helps him, a former high-school chemistry teacher, quickly become the biggest meth player in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Walter’s brokenness is what keeps him from getting out despite the fact that his work constantly endangers his life and the lives of those he supposedly loves. (4 Steps (And a Bonus!) To Making Character Everything)

3. Be Entertaining To Others

Some folks write to please themselves and that's great, but if you want an audience, write for the audience.

4. Don't explain everything.

Leave key information up to the audience to figure out. Leave room for revelation.

5. Plot, Narrative Structure, Is Everything

Structure matters because without it there's no story. Structure isn't formula. Structure, plot, simply provides framework for content, it doesn't dictate content. For example, Michael Hague, from Story Mastery, talks about the five key turning points of all successful scripts.

6. You Have To Go On To The Next Project

In the movie Bossy Pants Tina Fey said, "The show doesn’t go on when it’s finished; it goes on because it’s 11:30" (Kris Rusch: The Value of Imperfection).  Nina Munteanu writes that

Robert J. Sawyer’s response to the question of “when do you stop revising?” was “When you’ve taken out all the boring bits.” That may seem on the face of it either too simple or too abstract. But, in fact, he is right on the mark. (When Do You Know Your Story Is Finished?)
How can you tell when the boring bits are out? Nina gives these tips:

1. Objectivity: Distance yourself

If you think your manuscript might be done set it aside for a few weeks, or as long as you can afford then read it again with fresh eyes.

2. Is each scene essential and well developed?

- Does your character have clearly defined goals in each scene?
- Is there conflict? Something keeping the character from achieving his or her goal?
- Is the point of view character's goal tied into the story goal?
 You need to know when to step back and pronounce your work done. If you don't have an editor and are making this call on your own it can be difficult.

What is your favorite TV character? Why?

Other articles you might like:

- How To Succeed As A Writer: The Value Of Failure
- The Magic Of Stephen King: A Sympathetic Character Is Dealt A Crushing Blow They Eventually Overcome
- Ray Bradbury On How To Keep And Feed A Muse

Photo credit: "bee zzzzzzz Sunday" by linh.ngan under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Wednesday, May 30

Mr. Monk's Final Case?

I love the Monk stories. I watched the TV series from the beginning to the tear-soaked end and read the books so, naturally, it was with sadness that I heard Lee Goldberg has penned his last Monk novel. He writes:
My seven year, three episode, fifteen book relationship with Adrian Monk has ended. I've just finished writing my last book in the series, Mr. Monk Gets Even, and I will be sending it to my editor next week after taking one last pass through it (don't despair -- the book series may continue with another writer).
- Mr. Monk and the Happy Ending
I know Lee Goldberg's retirement from the Monk series doesn't necessarily mean the end of the books, but no one will be able to write them like he did.

Fortunately, Mr. Goldberg has started another series, The Dead Man Series. I have these books on my to-read list, right after I finish his last Monk books.

Lee Goldberg's website:

Thursday, May 17

The CW Making The Hollows Series (Kim Harrison) Into A TV Show

I am a huge, enormous, fan of Kim Harrison's The Hollow's series. I'm one of those people who rolls out of bed and thinks, 'Only X days till her next Hollows book!" and then I do a little happy dance. Well, in my imagination I do. No dancing before morning coffee; it's a rule.

Last October I heard stirrings there might be a Hollow's TV series, but didn't want to get too excited in case it didn't pan out.

Well, looks like I needn't have worried. Here's an excerpt of an article I just read on
What can you tell us about the CW's TV series adaptation of The Hollows?

I don't have a whole lot of information on that yet. I'll know a lot more in June. But what I can tell you is that CW has picked it up. Jordan Hawley, he's the guy who worked on Smallville, he is writing the pilot right now, and they're aiming for the 2012-2013 season. Like I said, by June I should know about cast members and filming and all sorts of things. But it's Hollywood – they get easily distracted. [Laughs.] It seems like they feel very strongly about it, and I feel pretty good about the progress that's being made.

It seems like the perfect story for the current television climate, which has been so receptive to TV shows like The Vampire Diaries and True Blood.

And yet it's completely different. It's got a different feel to it, and I think that CW can pull that out and put it on the small screen. I really think it can rock and roll.

Have you thought once or twice about who you might like to see portray Rachel or her partner Ivy?

Oh people ask me that all the time! I actually watch movies more than TV, so I don't know what the current crop of available people are to tell you the honest truth. But my readers have very strong opinions, and they will drop suggestions at my blog. I've got a special section, and they go and dump all sorts of suggestions. I try not to look too much because I know I probably won't have a whole lot of say in it. And I feel comfortable trusting them in this. They know the talent a lot better than I do.

Since the TV announcement, as you said, will come in June, is there any chance we'll see you at Comic-Con in July?

That's a good question. I wasn't planning on it. But I have a very small ship that can turn very quickly if I feel like it. So I wouldn't discount it, but I am not planning on it at this time. I've got a lot of writing I need to get done between now and then. We'll see. If it works out I will be there, but I'm not counting on it.
- Exclusive: Kim Harrison on ‘The Hollows' TV Show
I'll pass along more information as I get it.

- Kim Harrison's Books