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Soaps that seem hard to write for


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#1 allmc2008

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 04:43 PM

It seems as if there are soaps that hard just hard to write for either because of fan bases or because of the concept.  To name a few:

 

Dark Shadows (Speaks for itself)

 

The Young and the Restless (has there ever been a writer/producer as good as Bell?)

 

General Hospital (The show just turned 50 and it seems that only a small portion of that show's history was THAT good.)

 

The Edge of NIght (Not a lot of people can write crime-fiction and EON was mainly that)

 

 

 

I hope to here more responses!!!


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#2 greens_dupres

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 04:54 PM

General Hospital (The show just turned 50 and it seems that only a small portion of that show's history was THAT good.)

 

GH has a really passionate fanbase but I think different portions of the fanbase disagree about what the show's real identity/golden age is.

 

You've got your people who stick by the title and believe it needs to be about doctors and nurses and the hospital. You've got your fans of the 80s larger than life adventure era who want it to be capers and adventure and the WSB. You've got your 90s fans who loved a show about social issues and a lot of emphasis of relationships- romantic but also friends and family- this somewhat overlaps with the hospital identity but contrasts with the larger than life adventure stuff. And you've got your later Guza fans who loved either the mob focus or a particular Jason pairing and don't want the show to move away from being Sonny & Jason's mob world that everyone else lives in- those fans are less present here but I do believe they exist. 

 

There's more to it than that and fans who enjoyed things about each aspect. But I think at the root of GH's issues is that fans clamor for the glory days or the old days but that can be taken a lot of ways and the show can't be all of those things together without being a disjointed mess. So in sum that's my take on the problem with GH writing- the show doesn't know who it is anymore & trying to combine the greatest hits doesn't really work. 


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#3 cassadine1991

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 04:59 PM

GH has a really passionate fanbase but I think different portions of the fanbase disagree about what the show's real identity/golden age is.

 

You've got your people who stick by the title and believe it needs to be about doctors and nurses and the hospital. You've got your fans of the 80s larger than life adventure era who want it to be capers and adventure and the WSB. You've got your 90s fans who loved a show about social issues and a lot of emphasis of relationships- romantic but also friends and family- this somewhat overlaps with the hospital identity but contrasts with the larger than life adventure stuff. And you've got your later Guza fans who loved either the mob focus or a particular Jason pairing and don't want the show to move away from being Sonny & Jason's mob world that everyone else lives in- those fans are less present here but I do believe they exist. 

 

There's more to it than that and fans who enjoyed things about each aspect. But I think at the root of GH's issues is that fans clamor for the glory days or the old days but that can be taken a lot of ways and the show can't be all of those things together without being a disjointed mess. So in sum that's my take on the problem with GH writing- the show doesn't know who it is anymore & trying to combine the greatest hits doesn't really work. 

I think the 80s and 90s were very great years for GH.. but once Sonny's mob was the focus it went to hell and now in 2013 even with JFP and Guza gone, it's a shell of it was..


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#4 Max

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 05:07 PM

I believe that AW went through a different head-writer during each of the last seven years it was on the air. This may also have happened with SFT.

However, I don't think this indicates that these soaps were hard to write for. More likely, these rapid changes were made because of sagging ratings.

Edited by Max, 11 July 2013 - 05:07 PM.

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#5 cassadine1991

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 05:09 PM

All My Children has lots of troubles after Agnes Nixon left in 2000.


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#6 allmc2008

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 05:17 PM

GH has a really passionate fanbase but I think different portions of the fanbase disagree about what the show's real identity/golden age is.

 

You've got your people who stick by the title and believe it needs to be about doctors and nurses and the hospital. You've got your fans of the 80s larger than life adventure era who want it to be capers and adventure and the WSB. You've got your 90s fans who loved a show about social issues and a lot of emphasis of relationships- romantic but also friends and family- this somewhat overlaps with the hospital identity but contrasts with the larger than life adventure stuff. And you've got your later Guza fans who loved either the mob focus or a particular Jason pairing and don't want the show to move away from being Sonny & Jason's mob world that everyone else lives in- those fans are less present here but I do believe they exist. 

 

There's more to it than that and fans who enjoyed things about each aspect. But I think at the root of GH's issues is that fans clamor for the glory days or the old days but that can be taken a lot of ways and the show can't be all of those things together without being a disjointed mess. So in sum that's my take on the problem with GH writing- the show doesn't know who it is anymore & trying to combine the greatest hits doesn't really work. 

 

 

I think the 80s and 90s were very great years for GH.. but once Sonny's mob was the focus it went to hell and now in 2013 even with JFP and Guza gone, it's a shell of it was..

 

 

GH needs to do a Time Jump like AMC did IMO.  The best way for this show to work is to give it a clean slate.  I think the 90s were the best Era because it blended the original focus with the characters of the Monty Era.  That is why I made the Wendy/Clair comment in the Spoiler Thread.  They seemed to balance it out well.  Maybe Clair would work well with Ron as a co-head?  I can see the Mob stuff intesting as long as it were balanced.  That said, a Time Jump could eliminate the mob stuff even more so.


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#7 EricMontreal22

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 05:19 PM

GH has a really passionate fanbase but I think different portions of the fanbase disagree about what the show's real identity/golden age is.

 

You've got your people who stick by the title and believe it needs to be about doctors and nurses and the hospital. You've got your fans of the 80s larger than life adventure era who want it to be capers and adventure and the WSB. You've got your 90s fans who loved a show about social issues and a lot of emphasis of relationships- romantic but also friends and family- this somewhat overlaps with the hospital identity but contrasts with the larger than life adventure stuff. And you've got your later Guza fans who loved either the mob focus or a particular Jason pairing and don't want the show to move away from being Sonny & Jason's mob world that everyone else lives in- those fans are less present here but I do believe they exist. 

 

There's more to it than that and fans who enjoyed things about each aspect. But I think at the root of GH's issues is that fans clamor for the glory days or the old days but that can be taken a lot of ways and the show can't be all of those things together without being a disjointed mess. So in sum that's my take on the problem with GH writing- the show doesn't know who it is anymore & trying to combine the greatest hits doesn't really work. 

Well said.  To be fair OLTL (ANd proba some other soaps) had a bit of that too, though less so.  IE some people see Ruach's glamorous camp era as THE OLTL, etc.


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#8 SFK

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 05:19 PM

I don't think any show is inherently hard to write for (and it especially shouldn't be for its own creator) as long as the writer has a handle on the show's theme. I think the problem almost always comes down to writers and executive producers who lack skill, finesse, and good judgment, or who just aren't a right fit for the show. I think there's always someone, somewhere out there who could write any given soap masterfully.
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#9 P.J.

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 05:21 PM

I think ATWT was hard to write immediately after Marland's death, just because of the large cast and way Marland interweaved characters and stories. It's sort of the same problem B&B has post Bell Sr. Only that is mostly about nepotism and lack of true talent.


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#10 EricMontreal22

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 05:26 PM

Didn't Bell Sr supervise Bradley's first few years at B&B?  I haven't seen them, so can't judge...

 

It does seem that the most consistant soaps were the ones where the creator stayed involved the longest--no surprise.  Like Y&R (although I have a soap book from 1983 that complains that the new EP and focus on new family was making the show, physically, too light, and losing the dark, haunting, hypnotic quality that made the show so appealing) as well as AMC largely through its first three decades where Nixon, despite some off years, kept some sort of quality control.


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#11 jo.frank88

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 12:04 PM

I've always thought that B&B would be hard to write for since so much of the show revolves around such a small core cast that is very intertwined (however, I know in recent years they have transfused a lot of new 'the next generation" characters).


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#12 P.J.

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 02:23 PM

Part of the reason the B&B cast is so small and incestuous is DumbBell's failure to establish new characters and families. The only one I can think of that last more than a year is the Marones, and they lost most of their relevance when Mossimo left.


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#13 Winchester91

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 08:14 PM

B&B wasted an opportunity with Oliver's family. 


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#14 y&r_fan

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Posted 14 July 2013 - 01:53 AM

Y&R. I'm convinced that fans of this show will never be happy no matter what happens.
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#15 Nothin'ButAttitude

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Posted 14 July 2013 - 03:38 AM

I'd say only EON because writing mysteries is hard. It's gotta be sharp, tight, and make sense from start to finish.

The rest of the shows should be easy if the writers would do thorough research, which is the fun part of writing IMO, on the story to be addressed, the characters involved, and the show's history/formula.
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#16 DramatistDreamer

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Posted 14 July 2013 - 12:25 PM

I wouldn't say that ATWT was difficult to write for, but I definitely agree with the assessment that after Marland died, there didn't seem any great writers after--I don't know why but even when there were good storylines in the decade after, the best ones lacked complexity that ATWT used to be known for.  And those various story threads, that at first seemed unconnected, but would eventually weave together to create a fuller, richer story...ATWT couldn't find that again.

I once asked the question of whether the Writing Staff at Soaps plotted out storylines on a big whiteboard and specifically writing out dramatic/character arcs and structure.  Some type of blueprint so that, in case of anything, everyone knows the direction in which each and every character is meant to 'go'.  I just got the feeling that after Marland died, for example, the writers left to write had no idea where some characters were going nor where they were meant to 'end up' dramatically.

 

I also agree that good writing should've been possible throughout the years but great writers seemed in short supply-- at least the ones that wanted to write for Daytime television.  I know that ABC Daytime had a program but it was mainly for Production, with an emphasis on Production Assistants and Associate Producers, with a very light footprint in terms of Writing.  CBS didn't have anything that I could see beyond a few internships.

 

I could never understand why there wasn't more substantive outreach to Writing Programs.  In the mid 00s, I graduated from a Writing Program (I won't mention which one) and during that time I saw solicitations and announcements to submit work in consideration of some Theaters/Play Groups/Festivals, for Short/Indie Films, TV programs (mainly for Children's TV shows like Nick, which I had no interest in) and once I even got a solicitation to write a script for a Porn film (I kid you not).  I never got any announcements from a Daytime Soap.  

 

Perhaps if these shows could've lured some talent fresh out of Writing/Film schools to apprentice with the greats of the genre, inside of keeping it such an insular small group, there might have been a better chance of that continuity of good, compelling storytelling.  And each subsequent generation may have continued to bring contemporary issues to the fore instead of the re-tread and re-hash of content we have now (rapemances, numerous back from the deads and Baby Paternity to get Married storylines).  


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#17 DRW50

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Posted 14 July 2013 - 12:48 PM

Well said.  To be fair OLTL (ANd proba some other soaps) had a bit of that too, though less so.  IE some people see Ruach's glamorous camp era as THE OLTL, etc.

 

I'd actually say OLTL has this more than any other soap. GH had three big eras - the Jessie and Steve years, the Monty years, Guza years. OLTL had very different styles and tones with Agnes Nixon's run, then the Gordon Russell era, then Rauch, then Gottlieb/Malone. There are a few people who loved the JFP era. And of course Nellie and Jamey and friends would likely say Ron Carlivati was the best OLTL writer (or soap writer) of all time.

 

Difficult soaps?

 

Soaps with no core identity, which would mostly mean AW (which got rid of much of its core family and became about strong friendships and a sea of characters who were not "good" or "bad"), and GL (which also got rid of its core family and never seemed to find what it was going to be after that, aside from some of the early 90s).

 

I think ATWT was also a difficult soap to write, because of the very strong moral focus and the focus on family, history, and continuity. You had to LOVE soaps to write for ATWT. Sadly, few did after Marland. 

 

Given what a mess Y&R has been since the mid-90s, aside from a year or two of Kay Alden, I think we can add this too. I'd actually say the show is backbreaking to write, especially since they have so many old faded relics they can't write for, but also don't want to write out, and they have struggled heavily in making new characters who can fit the bill. And the business structure of Y&R (Newman, Jabot, etc.)  that Bill Bell and Kay Alden built up has gone to hell in the last decade. 


Edited by DRW50, 14 July 2013 - 12:49 PM.

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#18 ellabelle

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Posted 14 July 2013 - 01:40 PM

I think it would be hard to write for ANY soap. First just the sheer volume of writing that's required and the condensed time frame in which you have to write it. Second, the shows on the air now all have a lengthy history with intertwined characters and dedicated fanbases who know the characters inside and out and won't hesitate to complain if they feel that you're writing their favorites out of character.

 

I write a lot of fiction - some fanficition and some original - and writing soap fanfiction is hard to do and do well if you want to make the most of the entire canvas at any given time period. I usually end up just using a few characters because I feel like it's too much work to utilize everyone and do justice to who the characters are. Well, that, and some characters I just don't like...

 

I think for me personally, any show other than AMC would be hard because I'm not a regular viewer of any that are currently on the air now. I watched a bit of Days and Y&R back in the early to mid 90s, and I've seen bits and pieces of OLTL, GH and B&B, but I don't know the shows inside and out, which is what I think is needed for a good writer.


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#19 DRW50

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Posted 14 July 2013 - 02:50 PM

I think some soaps are almost writer-proof. B&B is one. Brad Bell is a lousy hack and yet the show has basically been unscathed for years, although it did grow in ratings once he got some better talent and stopped his offensive social issue stories.


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#20 frequentsoapfan

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Posted 14 July 2013 - 03:04 PM

I think some soaps are almost writer-proof. B&B is one. Brad Bell is a lousy hack and yet the show has basically been unscathed for years, although it did grow in ratings once he got some better talent and stopped his offensive social issue stories.

I actually think B&B should be the easiest of the soaps to write for with it being set and filmed in L.A. ,the half hour format, and focus on the L.A. fashion industry.


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