Wednesday, October 26, 2011

if i were producer television

As many of you know, if my other life I was a television producer. Television news, but still, a producer. I sat in on an uncountable number of meetings in which focus groups told us what to put on-air, where management stressed over the number of viewers watching our newscasts vs. our top competitors, where our news director insisted people were stupid and our job was to tell them what to think. The list goes on. The one thing in common: a hatred of taking risks.

The fall TV season is just around the corner. Have you noticed the new promos on-air? I've seen a few new show promos that look promising, but the stuff I'm really interested in are the coming-back promos. I can't wait to see what the writers/producers have in store for Gibbs and the NCIS team, I really want to know how Castle gets wrapped up (just let them have sex already!!) and what crazy antics the Modern Family crew get into. And Parenthood...I really want to see Crosby fix his life and I wonder what will happen with Adam & Company and I think it's about time Amber started to grow up...but I digress.

The shows above, by the way, are my favorites of the moment because they take chances, they don't go with the obvious public-will-love-it action. Risks in writing make me happy. So, if I were a television producer, I would take those risks - I would put Tony and Ziva (NCIS) into a bedroom and not let them out until their sexual frustration was over. Because that would bring all sorts of new conflict into the show. I would push Amber (Parenthood) to be the person she would be in real-life - instead of repeating her mother's mistakes, make her painfully aware of them and willing to do anything NOT to repeat them. I'd have Crosby and Jasmine get drunk and married in Vegas and have to deal with the effects of his engagement-affair, house-buying insanity so that she can't just run away.

Those are just a few risks I'd take if I were in television. Which brings me to the risks I'm willing to take as a romance writer. As scary as the freak-you-out headlines about Borders closing and Amazon moving into publishing and the ups-and-downs (in general)of publishing. And you know what? As scary as things are right now, I don't think they're more scary than they were fifty or so years ago. I think people still want to read good books, and I think some publishers have lost sight of that fact (if you don't believe me read Snooki's book or the upcoming tome from Casey Anthony). But the new publishers who have come into the space? Or who are becoming the road-makers of digital publishing? I think they've realized that a good book written by an unknown is better than a bad book written by a pseudo-celebrity. At least that is my hope.

The risks I'm willing to take: 1) Write the best book I can, even if it doesn't fit into a pre-conceived notion of 'what sells'. 2) Create characters that jump off the page and into the reader's life. 3) Make a concerted effort not to hash-and-rehash some past segment of a character's life, move on and keep the tension building. 4) Keep working, every day. 

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