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


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!

Double your chances by commenting on Apprentice Writer's review, posted yesterday!

The Fine Print:
1. U.S. and Canadian addresses only, no P.O. Boxes.
2. Leave a non-spammable way to reach you if your profile does not lead back to an active blog.
3. Bonus entries by following here or on Twitter (MayaWriter), please let Apprentice Writer know if you do.
4. Contest closes 27 April 2010.

Learn more about the author here.

Good luck!


M. said...

Welcome Libby! and let me say again how much I enjoyed MOPSO despite, technically, being a non-soaper (that sounds like I'm admitting to non-hygienic practices).

I'm probably violating the primary rule of Blogging 101 by directing people to another site, but I had to say how much your blog at Fresh Fiction on comedy writing made me laugh http://freshfiction.com/page.php?id=2441. Thanks for making me laugh, and darn you for making it look so easy when I sweat and toil and bleed for every little bit of funniness I try to cobble together!

M. said...

....and here's my writing question: what's your view on 3rd/1st person POV these days? I've had several people comment that my work could do well in 1st person (the pages they'd looked at were written in 3rd), and while respecting their opinion, I do wonder whether 1st person has fallen out of favor so much in the current publishing climate that it may be better to stick with 3rd.

Unknown said...

First vs. third person -- so many writers anguish over this. I've worried about it, too, and have rewritten first-person narratives in third and vice versa.

It really comes down to what you most want to achieve. First person offers a tremendous intimacy. But it also limits you in that you can only show that person's POV.

Third person allows you to explore more than one POV, but, as a result, you might lose some of the intimacy.

Sorry to be vague, but I think it depends on the story.

And yes, I've heard some folks don't like to read first person stories, but that hasn't stopped them from being popular -- Phillipa Gregory's stories are first person, after all.

Unknown said...

Oh, and thanks for the compliments on the Fresh Fiction piece and the link to it. I enjoyed writing that!

Kaitlyn Devin and Grace said...

I'd love to win this book?


Rachel said...

Sticking with the writing questions... what do you think about changing the perspective within scenes? What is the best way to approach such a thing so that a reader doesn't feel like a ping pong ball between two characters? As a writer, I try to avoid it but as a reader I've seen it done well and wish that I had that skill. :)

M. said...

Also, I really liked how Frankie thinks about the art of story-telling, and i think it applies to all kinds of fiction:

"...the challenge (is to)take characters who have (committed outrageous acts) and make and audience like them. Not like them in the sense of wanting to be friends with them. But like them enough to want to hear their stories."

So true!

In fact, as a writer, I think I may be most affectionate of a character who has, shall we say, a lot of shortcomings!

M. said...

Hi KD&G! Welcome to Apprentice Writer.

Good question, Rachel. What do you write?

Unknown said...


I'm not a "head-hopper." That is, I have a hard time jumping from one character's point of view (POV) to another within the same scene. So yes, I do use scene breaks to jump into another character's POV. Some great writers are head hoppers -- Nora Roberts is one -- and they can pull off the shifting POVs seamlessly. I have a hard time doing it.

I know some editors even prefer one POV per chapter - I'd find that hard to do.

traveler said...

Your book is delightful and unique. I love this entertaining story since it diverts me from life.

Rachel said...

Libby - Thanks for sharing that! I suppose it can depend as much or more on the individual writer than on the story.

M. - I assume you mean besides the ranting, etc of my blog? ;) I write long and short fiction. My short stories tend to be mostly sci-fi and the long stuff mostly fantasy. The shorts are all for adults and I have two book length projects right now, both fantasy, one for adults, one for young adults. Though I tend to think of myself as someone who enjoys writing rather than a Writer. :)

ParisH_Cadiz0622 said...


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hi, ladies! No need to enter me for the freebie book (I added it to my wishlist, however). I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail, AW. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

Unknown said...

Oh I'm a Huge Fan of Days Of Our Lives!! I've been watching it for 23 years now, since I was 13. I never miss a episode!

I'd love a chance to win your book. Sounds great!!


Stephanie said...

This book sounds so great! I'm new here and will be checking out the rest of the site. I've been writing this year, fiction, and I need all the help I can get! :) The story I'm working on switches between the point of view of two different characters. It's the first time I've ever done that and I've really been enjoying it, more so because I love the two characters whose 'voices' I hear in my head (one more than the other, actually!).

Reading said...

I just love the cover. Anything the title is great. Sounds like the kind of book I would like.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

M. said...

@traveler: diverting that's a great way to describe this story

@Christine H: wow, when you reach 25 years of watching the show should give you some kind of prize

@ stephanie: good on you for experimenting with two points-of-view. More tricky than it sounds - at least, it was for me

Sherry C said...

M. your blog is great I'm envious of you're writing skills, which is my weakness. I'll keep reading and get some good pointers.

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Really enjoyed the guest post, Libby and AW!

Another World was huge down here on the east coast when I was a young teenager, so much so, the city was a ghost town whenever one of those Big Scenes came along. Those were the Rachel, Mac and Iris heydays!

Amazing that you were able to contact the As the World Turns head writer - that was a favorite of mine during the Holden, Lily and Dustin days. Holden, Holden, Holden...

Your book is a great concept. My mom is one audience member who is constantly impressed by those story arcs (she's a General Hospital fan.) She would love My Own Personal Soap Opera.

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