What Writers can learn from Soap Operas

Constant emotional movements. But let’s dig further in.

Surprising as this may seem, I am a much bigger fan of psychological thrillers and murder mysteries than soap operas. But we should never discount what attracts the attention of viewers. Soap operas exists for a reason.

This is the area of writing I seek the most improvement in. I also strongly believe the more logical minded you are, the worse you will perform in this area. That is because logic minded writers tend to write with greater attention to plot. Emotional minded individuals write toward character. Emotion minded writers, in my opinion, have more natural talent for creating compelling stories.

It’s easy to start with the big picture – where your character begins, and where you would like for them to go. The problem with this is you have already laid the groundwork for a direct and subsequently predictable transition. Let’s craft an example and see how this works out.

Story number 1:

Mike wakes up groggy and decides he’s not going to feed the birds today. He sees the birds outside hanging out on the feeder but remains inside and watches television instead. He hears a bird smack against the window and says to himself, “I better feed those goddamn birds.” Mike feeds the birds and soon they are whistling on his shoulders.

Story number 2:

Mike wakes up groggy and decides he’s not going to feed the birds today. He sees the birds on the feeder outside, however, and chooses to pour them their seed. Right as he pulls the bag of songbird feed out his girlfriend calls out for him to do the dishes. He sets the seed down on the balcony and returns inside to begin cleaning. He takes a pause and watches through the window as birds peck at the closed bag, attempting to get a nibble of the goods. His girlfriend catches him taking this break and asks him why he looks so ticked off. Mike shakes his head as he returns to the task. His girlfriend walks to the balcony, picks up the bird seed, and throws it out. She tells him that the birds keep defecating on the balcony and she doesn’t want that any longer. Mike watches as the birds flee the balcony en masse. His girlfriend asks him if he’d like to go fly a kite through the airspace the pesky birds used to inhabit. Mike agrees, telling her that sounds like a great idea. When she hands him the kite, however, he stuffs it into the dishwasher, starts it on the warm cycle, then grabs the seed from the trash can instead. He tells her that she’s going to have to accept the birds’ presence or else go and fly kites by herself. He leaves for the balcony, gives the birds their coveted seed, then is happy forgive his now apologetic girlfriend.

I know what you’re thinking after reading that – “God what a stupid ass story.” Well, maybe it is. But it’s my story, and I’m determined to post more regularly no matter how shitty it is. So deal with it, and check out my latest short film if you’d interested in hearing more like it. And on a completely unrelated note, Kelly I love you and I will purchase a new kite later today just please come back.

Approaching Story from an Abstract Perspective

When I was younger I became heavily influenced by the writings of Bruce Lee. I’m not sure what you know about the man, but I’ve honestly never watched his movies and I can tell you I still place him in my top 3 philosophers. He invented a martial arts style known as “Jeet Kune Do.” The basis of his philosophy was this –

1.) You begin as a fighter without training. Your only objective is to break a man’s nose.

2.) After a bit of training, your focus during the match has become your technique, which subsequently boxes in your instincts and prevents self-realization.

3.) Once your training is honed, you revert back to a fighter who fights by instinct – only now the techniques and training you have honed have become a part of your natural reaction.

I believe very strongly in this line of thinking. I also believe the same thought process can and should be applied to story telling.

Many of the best musicians and artists are able to produce remarkable compositions with very little planning beforehand. They are able to do so because they trust their intuition to navigate them through rough waters, and their training has prepared them to steer in the right direction.

Story should be approached in the same way. There is not 1 inciting incident that propels a story forward, but an endless flurry of them. Each time new information surfaces, an alliance is betrayed, or a change of heart is had, we have a new inciting incident.

Instead of writing with a preconceived notion of what an entire story will shape up to be, we should write with the same fascination our viewer will experience. Place yourselves in the shoes of the protagonist and allow the world around him to react violently with his every attempt to pursue his objective. The more you find yourself in a situation where you can’t find a way out, you’ve forced your protagonist to grow and build upon their prior set of skills.

I want to dive deeper into this idea, and perhaps I will. Today I was determined to break from aimless slumber and begin taking steps toward producing films more efficiently. I plan to continue to promote my latest episode and begin scheduling meetings for my local filmmakers group. It is easy to get bogged down during these dark days, but it is courageous to continue to seek the light when you least believe that it is even out there.

Forcing Familiarity

“Read it!” The author said to the stranger.

Anytime you release a creative project – be it a novel, a film, a product, or an idea – you must take into account the realistic reception it will most likely receive.

It is naive and ignorant to anticipate the masses will flock to view your work because of its “masterful composition.” Any creative individual seeking external validation has signed up for disappointment.

The most common misconception of any artist is that the quality of their work will be instantly recognized upon its release. This is because the human mind does not operate that way.

Let’s say you decide one fine Sunday to read a book that has 0 reviews and no prior purchases.

Despite the fact you do not know the title of the book, nor it’s contents, nor its subject matter, you have already made an assumption about its overall quality. You are picturing novel ripe with plot holes, poorly applied research, and quite possibly grammatical errors. Why? Because you are looking for a reason to explain why the novel is a failure. It has thus far been labeled a failure by the rest of society, therefore you must examine it to figure out why.

This is no different than how we judge our fellow brethren and sisters. When we meet somebody new we ask what their occupation is shortly after introducing ourselves. In a job interview we provide a chronological blueprint about our prior life experiences in order to vouch for a job. In other words, we validate individuals, materials, and philosophies by first examining how they have been validated by others.

Now let us pretend on this fine Sunday morning that you have purchased a Stephen King novel instead. Perhaps you have never read any of his books before. What angle do you approach the pages with? You seek to discover why he is regarded as one of the all-time great novelists. You will study those pages and analyze the story in order to find the recipe to success. You are ready to receive his book with high regard and it will take work to change your opinion.

What’s the point of all this? To reassure any person out there who is trying to introduce something new to society that they are not falling short because of their skills and talents. That plays a role (the biggest in the long run), but it is not 100% responsible for the reception it receives. As a brand new novelist, your work will still be compared to Stephen King’s for examples of what not to do.

So what’s the point? Why even try? How can this hurdle be overcome?

You must continue to market your work even after learning it is not the masterpiece you once thought it to be. You must continue to defend yourself even after your weaknesses have been exposed. You must become a sales person who realizes that the consumer will not buy their product unless they are convinced it is a worthy investment.

The more you expose your imperfect work, as gut-wrenching as that may be, the more the public will find a sense of familiarization with you, the individual. Where at first they said no, they may eventually say yes – and only because they have been exposed to your brand multiple times. This is why advertising exists, after all – we’re not running to Mcdonalds every time we see a billboard. However, we may just feel like a McGriddle when we head into work the next day.

If you’re interested in my imperfect work, please check out my short film below and feel free to leave me a comment:

Premiere Failure

The worst thing that could have happened during last Friday’s premiere did happen.

I have been pushing this film for months. During all that time I refrained from exposing it to the cast and crew due to an understanding that first impressions mean everything. From what I gathered online, you should treat the premiere of your films as if they are an actual blockbuster event. You want to generate hype, raise awareness, and create excitement. I spent 2 long days working on the trailer. Much to my dismay, I spent another full day putting together a series recap for new viewers who want to get rapidly caught up.

As the premiere event approached, I began to post links online in hopes to have a live audience and stellar viewpoint (20-30 for me is stellar lol). I succeeded. And then the film started playing –

But let me point out one last thing. Experience has taught me that once a video is fully edited, I must upload it in private and watch the entire thing, beginning to end, on multiple devices. This helps to realize audio, story, and visual issues. I had already done this, and uploaded the video one week earlier.

So the premiere starts – I became confused, then panicked, then infuriated. The video premiered in 720p. I exported it a 2160 4k hd. For those who are unaware, this means the resolution – aka quality – was about a quarter of what it was supposed to be. For the cast and families viewing, they were exposed to rinky dink audio and the visual quality of a 1996 vhs tape.

I immediately pulled the links and was about to pull the video. When the premiere finished, however, it became available in 1080p. I figured out then that the video had not begun processing the HD version until after it had already been played through.

The damage was done, however. The great first impression was a let down. I emailed the actors and recommended they check out the video again after it had processed appropriately. I returned to promoting it the rest of the weekend and was able to bring the view total up. I have entered it into several festivals and have already been accepted by two.

Anyways, just wanted to share this horror story. If anybody out there intends to premiere a video on youtube, please make certain you upload it as private initially, allow it to fully process in high definition, and then set the premiere date. Otherwise you will suffer the same humiliation as I.

If you are interested in the actual video, feel free to view below.


After being locked away editing for months, it feels extremely satisfying to finally be able to market my work.

I have posted my work to film freeway in order to find contests to enter, and the response has been overwhelming. Around 50 different contests have offered me a %50 discount to enter, which is awesome!

Today I have the tasks of writing them all down and budgeting my contests allotment appropriately. I would like to view the work at festivals if at all possible, and will try to enter contests appropriately.

As always, hustling has been a challenge. I’ve posted my teasers here as well as reddit and am approaching other avenues as well. I’m trying my best to build up some hype for episode 4’s release. I want to reach 1000 views on it before the end of January.

One platform I desperately would like to post the video to is Amazon Prime Video Direct. If you post a video on there that begins garnering a large amount of rentals you can receive monetary compensation. The big problem with this is the music in my videos come from Epidemic Sound. There standard license does not cover amazon as a platform.

This means that in order to post my video there, I would have to replace all of the current music. I can either record music myself or pursue another artist to provide the score. Not sure what I’m going to do yet, but this is a platform I would like to submit to. Only other option would be to purchase a single track license from Epidemic, which at $99 a pop is out of the question. Stay tuned.

Episode 4 is Complete!!

Without going into too much detail, I’ve completed Episode 4 along with the trailer. To say I’m relieved is an understatement. I spent much of last week learning how to create a 5.1 surround sound audio mix. I’m still very much in the dark, but I did realize I had configured my dialogue to play out of the front left and right speakers (wrong!). In film and television, dialogue plays out of the front center speaker, music is mixed in the left/right speakers front and rear, and sound effects are (mostly) in the rear speakers. There is also the subwoofer which can deal with explosions or perhaps a submix.

Believe it or not, becoming a sound engineer in 5 days was harder than I first thought (I gave up on 5.1). But I was able to finally figure out how to set my tracks to stereo and deliver a more full dialogue sound without blowing out the speakers.

Enough with the gibberish – I’m done editing! This means that I can go outside for a jog and expose my skin to sunlight again. But it also means I’m ready to enter the next step – marketing, contest, and self-promotion. I know a lot of people on wordpress are writers who are currently working on a novel of some sort. Before I got into film I was doing the same.

In the modern age it is highly advised to be marketing while you are still creating your project. Honestly I feel this sentiment is laughable. There is so much work involved in the creation of anything, and that work is always introverted. I am convinced the human brain does not work fluidly among all quadrants, but that one area of focus takes precedence over another. The reason that matters is because creation of any piece of artwork takes an EXTREMELY introverted brain. The type that is uncomfortable with the moral and spiritual implications of braggadocio style marketing.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that controversy, pie-in-the-sky claims, and a unbreakable ego are tools that will help you promote yourself/your work. It’s that “confidence” we always hear is so important for job interviews, first dates, and success in life in general. The great irony of “confidence” is it always feels that when you approach your work with any semblance of arrogance (i.e., the viewer will enjoy my material because I am great therefore my work is great) is that quickest way to compose a steaming pile of shit.

It’s taken a lot of words to get to my point, but here it is – When you are creating art, you must remain introspective and humble to convey the truth of emotion you seek to bring to life. When you are promoting your artwork, you must stay true to the realities of the world – that people won’t look at your work unless you give them a reason to (that ideally fulfills a curiosity, longing, or necessity you have attached to your product). It takes two different brains and personalities to accomplish these very diverse tasks.

Anyways, I will be spending my morning editing the subtitles of my video in order to submit it to amazon on demand. I am also hoping to send it out to a few contests later today. Along with that I’ll continue to promote the trailer.

You can find the trailer down below. If you take the time to view it and leave a like/comment, I will do 5 jumping jacks. Thank you and I wish you a wonderful day.