Last night I watched a bunch of episodes of the CW network’s evening drama Arrow which is based on the comic book hero Green Arrow.
It wasn’t a great work of art but neither is Green Arrow as a comic book. What does distinguish it is that it is solidly entertaining. There is an overarching storyline for the entire series, a storyline that seems to comprise the season and an individual storyline or each given episode. Just like most other evening dramas. And not at all like most comic books. This isn’t rocket science but it is something novel in the comic book field: trust.
Trust that you have created an engaging premise with captivating characters. Trust your writers. Trust your art direction. And then don’t rely on cliffhangers to try and compel people to return to you. End the short term plots and slowly build up the long term, character-driven plots. It’s very basic, my friends. People don’t come back because your hero is in danger. We know he’ll live. So stop trying so hard to extract drama out of the immediate conflict and simply resolve the immediate conflict in the same episode. People come back because they like the hero and they like how he or she solves (or simply manages) problems. If you take six months to get to a resolution like comic book writers do, you lose readers. That’s because the readers lose sight of what is interesting.
Each unit of storytelling that is sold or released should give the audience a plot with a resolution AND the seeds for developing overarching plots. It’s not a secret. So stop writing comic books all wrong.
That goes for all of you.
On HBO, there’s a show called Girls that you probably heard about. Some of the characters have storylines based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn which is where I live. It’s a pretty good show. Much more amorphous than many other modern television dramas are structured but much more interesting for the fact that this show eschews many of the tried and true formulas. Yet it clings to other formulas.
I’m not usually happy with the way sex is used in popular entertainment stories but the sex scenes in Girls are pretty shocking for how lived-in they feel. These aren’t sex scenes where the cameras cut to artful montages of knees and shoulder blades. The sex scenes are actual stories in themselves. With each participant wanting something from the sex and often with differing results.
Sex that is treated as a battle of sorts, something that can leave participants happy, empty, deluded or amused. It’s very rare to see sex depicted as the lively, continually-evolving part of a relationship that it factually is.
Speaking of sex, here’s a page from Cable designed to appeal to women whose fetish is men who are literally half-automobile. By Ariel Olivetti.