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Douglas Marland's 10 Rules on how not to wreck a soap! (:

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  • FreemanGriffin
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    Now that we only have four network soaps (and lots of web soaps but they still aren’t all that popular or well known) I enjoyed revisiting Douglas Marland’s ten rules!

    DOUGLAS MARLAND’S 10 RULES ON HOW NOT TO WRECK A SOAP. Mal Young needs to read these:

    How Not To Wreck A Show

    (1) Watch the show.

    (2) Learn the history of the show. You would be surprised at the ideas that you can get from the back story of your characters.

    (3) Read the fan mail. The very characters that are not thrilling to you may be the audience’s favorites.

    (4) Be objective. When I wrote As the World Turns the first thing 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.

    (5) 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 actor who has been playing the role?

    (6) 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.

    (7) 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 viewers’ throats.

    (8) If you feel staff changes are in order, look within the organization first. P&G [Procter & Gamble] does a lot of promoting from within. Almost all of our producers worked their way up from staff positions, and that means they know the show.

    (9) Don’t fire anyone for six months. I feel very deeply that you should look at the show’s canvas before you do anything.

    (10) Good soap opera is good storytelling. It’s very simple.

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    Robert Bruce
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    This is such a great list. It wouldn’t hurt for all the soap writers and producers to take a look at it.

    More than anything, viewers watch to see their favorite characters, and that often gets lost on the hour-long soap.

    I am all for new characters, but they need to be integrated gradually. It’s exciting when a newer character clicks and feels like an integral part of the canvas.

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    EmmyLoser
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    Yes yes yes. I feel like I want to go through the list and give each show points or demerits based on whether or not they’re applying the rule.

    I think the one of these points that’s hardest now compared to 20 or 30 years ago is point three, reading the fan mail, mostly because now there are so many avenues for people to contact the show or its higher-ups, and they really all need to be taken into consideration. Don’t assume the people yelling at you on Twitter speak for the whole audience, but consider their opinion along with letters, e-mails, comment threads, message boards. Sometimes it can be very easy to tell how the audience feels about certain characters, pairings or storylines, but sometimes they sources will conflict and the picture can be hard to decipher.

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    Boidiva02
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    A really good list for sure.

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