Wednesday, May 21, 2008

When Writers SCREW UP!

This picture typifies what I think when writers betray their fans' trust. Duh! OK, this morning, I was over at RBL, and one of my sisters there brought up something that made me want to RANT.


I am jumping in here because it seems that it is happening, A LOT. For me, it all seemed to begin a few years ago when Bill Panzer (Highlander) and Josh Whedon (Buffy, Angel) started killing off their major characters. Don't get me wrong, I have truly enjoyed their twisted humor. Now other directors are doing the same. This past week I have seen it happen on at least three of my favorite shows. By favorite, I mean the only shows that I make the time to watch. Anyway, this really ticked me off. You would think that the writers would have a little more imagination than: "Gee, we need a cliff hanger. Gee, let's kill somebody important off! Gee, let's kill an important relationship! Gee, let's have one of our main characters do something REALLY awful."

Folks, what is shocking one time, gets OLD by the tenth. As you all know, I have been taking beaucoup classes in writing from various chapters of RWA. One of the things that is emphasized (without fail) by the successful writers teaching the classes is:

"Thou shalt NOT break the contract with the reader!"

It is OK to have real risk. It is OK to occasionally have a sacrificial lamb to emphasis that risk. But when something irredeemable happens to one of our favorite characters... Writers and Directors... you and your program/book are so SOL.

Writers have a responsibility to readers and viewers not to destroy that which their fans love... at least not without offering them something better. It makes them angry! Angry fans will no longer invest their time or their money.

Now that I have had my RANT:

1) Which shows have really ticked you off lately (besides Desperate Housewives, of course)?
2) Which shows can you think of that have been killed off because of this violation of the fans' trust?
Happy writing,
Trying to Write Science Fiction Romance
Real Love in a Real Future


Laurie said...

Hi Frances. What a great blog with fun content. Thanks for leaving me a message on Spacefreighters Lounge. :) Feel free to add my blog to your links, if you'd like.

I always enjoy "meeting" a fellow SciFiRom writer. It's an exciting (sub)genre to read and talk about.

As to your post, I don't know that I can name a show that's ticked me off, but I find Lost continues to disappoint me, especially killing off--or seeming to kill off--major characters :( and Grey's Anatomy is always a total delight. :)

Frances said...

Hi Laurie, Welcome and oh, yes. I would love to add your blog to my links. Thanks for offering. That was a beautiful post you did on The Galaxy Express. So many wonderful sites... and so little time to write. Oh, what will I do? *G*

Brantley said...

There was a two-hour finale of NCIS that was set up for the only purpose of killing off two of the main characters. Naybe they thought it was daring, or maybe it was a budget thingy -- the stars wanting more money and the studio unwilling to pay. Only I hadn't realized that this sort of thing had become a cliché.

It's not that I mind a changing cast -- how many cast changes have their been on LAW & ORDER over the past dozen years? But Dick Wolf doesn't feel the need to kill off the characters in the name of fake drama.

Speaking of fake, somethig else that really pissed me off this past year was the quick demise of the new BIONIC WOMAN. It had a good premise and an appealing cast, but the writing was DREADFUL. Nothing ever made much sense, and even the backstory kept changing from week to week.

It reminded me of L. Ron Hubbard's TYPEWRITER IN THE SKY, where the hero is trapped in the world of an acquaintance's hack novel -- as a character due to be killed off, He manages to change the story enough to survive, but at the end the sky still looks threatening: "Up there? God? In a dirty bathrobe?"

They need better writers out there in La-La Land, not just clean bathrobes.

Frances said...

Brantly, Aint't it the truth! I can deal with the cliché of killing of characters who want a pay raise. It just gets to be so ... well, expected. The thing that set me off last week was the episode of BONES where they wrote out a major character, whom everyone loved, by having him do something that was utterly dispicable and out of character. I don't care how they rationalize it, it was just wrong.

Funny thing, my roommate works at the local Public Library. The day after the episode, people donated their DVDs of the series to the library. Must'a gotten under someone else's skin, too. :-)