Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Author Guest Post & Giveaway: LIBBY MALIN
Today, Apprentice Writer welcomes the lovely Libby Malin, author of humorous women's fiction, chatting on the topic of
SOAP OPERA IN A TWITTER WORLD
I've watched Days of Our Lives for many years and before that, Another World.I liked to ponder the challenges of a soap writer - juggling actor vacations and contract changes, sweeps week stories - things outside of the writer's control, for the most part. Oh, and soap genealogy - I think more than one soap has shifted a story line after it was apparent that the family linkage between a guy and a gal was a little too close for comfort. Family trees get awfully twisted on soaps. That should be a college major - Daytime Drama Character Lineage! LOL!
Anyway, I found myself thinking about how writers dealt with these various challenges, and noticing how skillful the writers were, for the most part, in constructing story arcs. It fascinated me, especially since the storylines are usually so outlandish - swapped babies, evil twins, people 'coming back from the dead' (usually with amnesia). And yet, if the writers do a good job, you're riveted. You absolutely must be there when the Big Scene occurs - when the villains misdeeds are revealed, when the villainess gets her comeuppance. You drool for those moments!
Another thing I love about soaps is how the characters say outrageous things to one another that you'd never say in real life, no matter how much you loathed someone. Yet on a soap opera, it's not unusual to see various characters talking trash right in the face of someone they can't stand. It's marvellously satisfying.
So all of those things combined together created the germs of a story idea about a soap opera head writer. I started thinking: wouldn't it be neat to a soap opera writer and use all those in-your-face scenes to work out your own "issues" with people in real life? And what if real life started to blend into the soap life? That's how the idea of a real jewel thief imitating the one on the show popped into My Own Personal Soap Opera.
Another think I particularly admired about the soal Another World was how they stayed true to one story arc they used over and over - that is, haves-vs.-have-nots. The theme ran through all their plots. It also runs through My Own Personal Soap Opera. Frankie, the head writer, comes from 'the wrong side of the tracks', while Victor, the marketing guru who comes in to help raise the soap's ratings, comes from a moneyed background.
Since I am not, nor have I ever been, involved in the production of a soap opera, I had to do a bunch of research. I read some fiction set in the soap world as well as a number of autobiographies of soap stars. I also consulted with a number of people who do or did work on soaps, including the head writer of As the World Turns, who was so gracious and patient with my questions. I took what I learned and used it as a springboard for my fictional tale. Therefore, I did stretch reality to suit my particular story - just as soap opera writers do!
Thanks for having me as a guest. I'd be happy to answer any questions about writing as best I can.
Thanks, Libby, for dropping by!
Ask a question or make a comment and you can win a copy of My Own Personal Soap Opera, generously provided by Sourcebooks!
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