Thursday, April 30, 2009

Going there, and making mistakes

I've been talking about my pilot with people, and I think I've come to some important conclusions:

1. Go there. And not just in the racy Degrassi-tag-line-esque ways. I talked once before about having your characters make big choices, and I think it's also important to remember that your characters can make big mistakes. Sometimes big shit happens that's out of our control. Natural disasters. Deadly diseases. Accidents. But what I find much more interesting is when people make big choices and mistakes all on their own - and then we get to watch the ramifications unfold. On Friday Night Lights, it's when Lyla Garrity cheats on her now-paralyzed boyfriend. On Weeds it's when Nancy starts negotiating with the DEA agent she's sleeping with. The consequences are sometimes juicier than the shocking choices themselves. I still maintain that it's important to understand why people do what they do - but I urge you to think about going bigger and badder.

2. People - especially family members - can come back from saying really horrible things to each other. On Brothers & Sisters, sometimes Kitty and Sarah will dig deep in their insults. But they're sisters. We know they love each other. And we know they'll make up. So it's okay (and realistic) for them to say reprehensible, regrettable things.

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Neil said...

Thanks for the post. It's inspired me to be more daring with something I'm working on at the moment, actually.

I have a group of soldiers and naturally, tempers will flare. I have this whole 'in a time of war, there isn't time for diplomacy' way with it. My leader has to issue orders and not everyone agrees with them. I'm now going to make his orders and the enforcing of them more powerful now.

Thanks :)

Monsterbeard said...

Lyla is such a hypocritical tramp. BTW, so unbelievably happy I started watching FNL. Thank you.

Riggins goes through hell and rarely deserves it, but he keeps going, and we love him for it, to tie it back to the post.

Dan Williams said...

The TV movie, "No Greater Love," staring Kelly Rutherford has a similar plot. When her parents die on the Titanic, she has to raise her brothers and sisters. She starts out making a mistake, which she later realizes. This plot could be a model for that type of story, perhaps. It's from a Danielle Steel novel by the same name. (I borrowed the DVD of this movie from the local library.)

"Bunglow 2" is the opposite plot--very reluctantly the heroine makes the right decision and has to suffer all the consequences. This is another Danielle Steel novel.