Monday, November 05, 2007

Ya Gotta Commit!!

In the last little while I have enjoyed some fantastic reading and some fantastic television. (I've also enjoyed a lot of Wonder Pets, green snot, night wakings and days that start at 5:30 am - thank God for books and tv or I seriously would not have made it through the last two weeks) Anyway - I've figured out what is working with all of these things that I love - the J.R. Ward books, Friday Night Lights, The Elizabeth Hoyt books, Outlander, Life and yes, House. Loving House again. The writers of these varied programs and books totally committed to every aspect of what they were creating (except Life, really, but we will get to that). Friday Night Lights is a a high school drama, a marriage drama, a football drama and now, a crime drama and in every scene that contains one of those aspects - it's well researched, well thought out and creative. It doesn't pretend to be a football show - it is a football show - my husband LOVES those big hits. When the show is about football - it commits to being about football.

House isn't just an excuse for Hugh Laurie to be fantastic - it's also very compelling medical drama. It commits to both.

The Hoyt books - she takes a conflict - in Leopard Prince - it's a class conflict - and she commits to it - there is no easy way out - she doesn't make the hero a secret duke. He's the land steward at the beginning of the book and stays that way throughout.

Now, why Life is probably going to be cancelled is because they haven't totally committed to being a crime show - the weekly cases are really weak - last week's? PLEASE? The Chief of the LA police department on a stake out because someone is pooping in someone else's yard? Terrible - not believable at all!!!

Now, in writing I don't think it means that you have to turn your light paranormal, or vaguely suspenseful romance into something Dennis Lehane would write - but it does mean that in those scenes that are supposed to be suspenseful - you have to commit to it - you have to give the reader more than what is just basic. Our subplots can not just take up space and add to the word count - they have to be integral and they have to be fully-imagined.

And, I'm going to do that - any minute now.


Unknown said...

Oh this is so true, Molly. And I never really thought about it that way, but you're right. As long as the show delivers on what they promised, I buy what they're selling, it does seem to work on a higher level.

Anonymous said...

I love when Molly finds a new gem about writing.
As always, I 100% agree. If you choose a path for your story, that path had best be authentic, or don't go there.
It sounds so easy when I say it.. not so much in practice.

Maureen McGowan said...

Great post, Molly.

Commitment... Writers so often don't have the guts and instead soften their original ideas hoping to increase the story or the characters' appeal. Often has the opposite effect.

Sadly, though... it sometimes takes these fully committed things a little longer to catch on.

Molly O'Keefe said...

well - i think the love it or hate it project when it eventually finds a home has interesting possibilities. It just takes so long to not just trust your instincts but to realize what your instincts are -- the more I write the more I really respect those writers like Eileen Dryer who have been in the business so long. Because it's hard when you're not a huge breakout star right away or in the first few years - it's hard to keep learning and staying in the game - of course now she's rewarded with NYT Bestseller status - but it couldn't be easy.

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