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.

2 thoughts on “What Writers can learn from Soap Operas

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