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So I know that most writers will tell you that television is evil and you should stay away from it, but when you find a well-written show it can teach you quite a bit about writing. And since discovering (and becoming addicted to) Battlestar Galactica I’ve learned a few things. Here’s what they are:
1. The crazier the character, the more fun they are to follow. Kara and the Doctor make the best episode leads, because they are a little bit on the crazy and unpredictable side. Adama Sr. is also good to follow, because he’s a badass and you want to see what badass thing he’s going to do and say this week. His son, Lee, is a white-bread do-gooder with boring episodes. Don’t follow the do-gooder unless they are going to do-bad (like the Black Market episode, which is the only Lee episode that I’ve liked). People that you can’t sympathize with (like the President) also make bad episode leads, because you don’t care if they are lying on the hospital bed dying. You kind of hope they will die so you can get back to watching Adama and the Doctor and Kara.
2. You don’t always have to leave a chapter/episode with high drama like someone being shot into space. Sometimes you can leave the chapter/episode with people hugging and laughing and being generally happy, as long as your reader/watcher knows that something is about to go horribly horribly wrong. End a chapter with tension, not necessarily drama.
3. Everyone needs a breather every now and again. Everyone needs a happy ending.
4. The happy ending doesn’t need to last very long 🙂
5. Answer your questions. Every answer should lead to an even bigger question. This one I’ve learned from not only BSG (who does a great job of answering questions with another, bigger question) but also from Flash Forward, who left me with so many un-answered questions after a few episodes that I stopped caring about the answers and gave up watching. Piling questions on top of questions and never answering anything is a great way to confuse your reader enough to make them put down the book. They lose hope that their questions will ever be answered. So always answer questions – even if they are only minor questions – but when you do it create a bigger question/problem.
6. Do not ever make a robot with artificial intelligence and guns-for-hands. Come on humanity. That’s just dumb.
Are there any shows that you love that have helped you grow as a writer?