Until As The World Turn is back in production and in its original time slot, and we begin As The World Turn Cliffhanger Friday posts, we would like to share this with you.
In her book Jeanne Cooper (Catherine Chancellor) could not resist sharing something the great Douglas Marland (longtime head writer of ATWT) once wrote, which she and we at LTAS firmly believe every soap opera writer and producer should be required to memorize and adhere to religiously. This formula will keep our soaps in their glory and make sure they will not be taken away from us ever again.
How not to ruin soap
- Watch the show.
- Learn the history of the show. You would be surprised at the ideas that you can get from the backstory of your characters.
- Read the fan mail. The very characters that are not thrilling to you may be the audience favorites.
- Be objective. When I came in to ATWT, the first I said was, “What is pleasing the audience? You have to put your own personal likes and dislikes aside and develop the characters that the audience wants to see.
- Talk to everyone, writers and actors especially. There may be something in a character’s history that will work beautifully for you, and who would know better than the actors? There may be something in a character’s history that will work beautifully for you and who would know better than the actor who has been playing the role?
- Don’t change a core character. You can certainly give them edges they didn’t have before, or give them a logical reason to change their behavior. But when the audience says, “He would never do that,” then you have failed.
- Build new characters slowly. Everyone knows that it takes six months to a year for an audience to care about a new character. Tie them in to existing characters. Don’t shove them down the viewer’s throats.
- If you feel staff changes are in order, look within the organization first. P&G (Procter and Gamble) does a lot of promoting from within. Almost all or our producers worked their way up from staff positions, and that means they know the show.
- Don’t fire anyone for six months. I feel very deeply that you should look at the show’s canvas before you do anything.
- Good soap opera is good storytelling. It’s very simple.
The Great Douglas Marland. ATWT writer.