What can Writers Learn from Television?

No, really, I want someone to tell me. Here are a couple of observations I’ve made over the years.

For TV, the main character has to have the right job. In order to get involved in amazing things, the MC has to have credible opportunities. This is why we see so many shows about cops, doctors, and lawyers.

People branched out and we see firemen, coroners, and police psychics. It may have been popular, but in real life, Angela Lansbury would never stumble across hundreds of murders. There aren’t too many shows about water department workers for a reason.

This applies to novels too. There has to be a reason for things to happen. In a novel, an average guy can stumble across something bad, spectacular or amazing. He isn’t going to have access to the big guns or the cool science though.

Character is important. I watch Once Upon a Time, but for the wrong reasons. I’m watching it for a bad example. Some of the main characters are flat and boring.

Regina/Evil Queen is horrible. She is always going to say the most vile thing. She is the first person to bully or make a threat. She’s the one who says, “You’re lying.” Lana Parilla is being wasted here. She’s smoking hot and looks great in fairy tale clothing and her mayoral suits. The minor background they gave her is too little too late.

Mr. Gold/crocodile/Dark One/Rumplestiltskin/Beast is great. He’s evil too, but he’s a complete character. He has a touch of humanity, and I feel for him when he loses his son or Belle.

Snow White and Prince Charming are boring. They’re always goody goody, and are as predictable as sunrise.

Story is important. I’ve never seen it, but how can Hostages go any further than one season? Bad guys take a family hostage and force one of the parents to do something horrible. I just don’t see this lasting ten years.

Dr. Who is at the other end of the spectrum. It’s been going for fifty years and shows no sign of slowing down. The possibilities are limitless.

I have a lot of words down, so I’ll start summing up. Our stories need believable circumstances, even in science fiction and fantasy. We need sympathetic and believable characters. We need a fully fleshed out world too. One that allows for twists and turns in the plot, and might even allow for a sequel if fans support the first one.

So, back to my question. What can TV teach us? I’d like to get the comments going. Let’s hear some opinions or issues I didn’t address.

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