Monday, August 29, 2011


Earlier this month, Lee Goldberg on this blog, A Writer's Life, quoted best-selling author Lawrence Block to the effect that:

I sincerely hope that my writing pleases you, but if you think I’m here to give you what you want, there’s a lot you don’t understand about writing, and no end of things you don’t understand about me. The greatest disservice I could do my readers is to try to give them what they want. That’s just not part of my job description. All I can do is write my books my way, and try to make them so irresistible that you enjoy reading what I want to write.

When Another World Today launched in 2009, the basic premise, rather than merely picking up life in Bay City ten years after television cancellation, was to let fans guide the story. And we've stuck to it.

For years, soap fans have wanted more input into their favorite shows. Although, as Victoria Rowell (ex-Dru; Y&R) told me when I interviewed her for Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments, "It's very interesting how fans have an influence over what sometimes is included in the storyline."

The question is: Should they?

Exactly how much say should fans have over a storyline? One thing I've learned from AWT, and Mindy's Twitter, as well, is that there is absolutely no such thing as what "all the fans want."

Here is an example of a recent poll of ours:

Should Morgan apologize to Marley?
Votes for Yes 50%
Votes for No 49%

Clearly, half the readers are going to be unhappy regardless of which direction we go in. I see similar things with the on-air soaps, as GH's JaSam fans battle Liason, and each side swears that the show's ratings would go through the roof if only their favorite couple is allowed to reunite.

So I ask you: Should TPTB listen to fan input? And which fan input should they listen to? Or should they do as Steven Spielberg once said, "My job isn't to make movies the audience wants to see. My job is to make the audience want to see the movies I make."

Tell us in the Comments below!


Tyrus said...

I want to be surprised, which means not getting what I want.

But I'd also like to know that the writers are fans of the story and not just writing to meet a deadline.

I guess for me, it's not that I want to get what I want, but I want it executed in a way I like.

Circular logic perhaps?

Lois said...

Well, I think any show should listen to the fans... but fans have got to realize that what they want may not always be the best thing for the characters and story.

Yes, writers should remember the history and what the character's general personality and motivations are; but as long as there are good reasons and it's done believably, sure, go ahead and change them - people change, and you have to keep a story interesting after all.

And sometimes, of course, fans should complain. But sometimes, I think they go overboard, and think they control what is going on... sorry, but no. The people behind the show are the ones with the ultimate vision, they have a general idea on where things should go. And sometimes what people want, isn't always the best.