Sunday, September 19, 2010

Six Scenes with a View of Writing Soaps
by Susan Dansby

As some of you are well aware, I casually mentioned to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that I was considering writing a fan-driven epilogue to As The World Turns' Luke and Noah story, and Twitter hell broke loose.

Some Nukes were incensed – why did I want muck up a perfectly good ending?

Some Lures were insulted – did I have to twist the knife?

I was hurt and ready to shuck the whole thing. Until…

In my book, How Did You Get That Job?:

I talk about growing up with an alcoholic father, and what happened when he stole my money for college. I made the best of it and graduated with a BFA from Carnegie-Mellon University.

When I tried to get in the door at GUIDING LIGHT as a director, I heard “not now” practically every week for six months. I made the best of it, and ended up working in an industry I love on one of the best soaps ever, for 5½ years.

When I was fired from AS THE WORLD TURNS as an Associate Head Writer in 2002, I made the best of it, and was rehired as a script writer five days later.

How Do We Make the Best of This?

How could I turn this Luke/Noah debacle around so that I kept my commitment to those who had expressed enthusiasm for the project, and make it exciting (instead of painful) for me?

By pleasing myself. I love writing drama, and I love teaching people how to write better drama. So why not use these scenes as a creative teaching tool? That’s how Six Scenes with a View of Writing Soaps was born.

Six Scenes with a View of Writing Soaps


We’ll take this particular day’s Luke/Noah six-scene story arc and follow it through each soap writing step:

* Basic action of what will happen during the scenes. Add notes from the head writer and other breakdown writers and that becomes…

* The unrevised breakdown. Add notes from the network, sponsor, executive producer, head writer, breakdown writers, and that becomes…

* The revised breakdown. Add notes from the executive producer, head writer, producers, script editor, and that becomes…

* The unedited script. Add notes from the editor, and that becomes…

* The edited script. Add further input from the producers, directors, designers, and actors, and those are the words you hear on the air.

Who’s the network executive, sponsor, executive producer, and head writer in this scenario? That would be you.

I’d get your input and write accordingly – giving you real-world tips about dealing with exposition, story structure, dialogue, etc., as we go along.

Be you Nuke or Lure or just someone who’s interested in becoming a better writer in any medium or genre, this course is for you.

How valuable do I think this will be? When it’s all said and done, I’ll be compiling a package that I will sell for $47 – and it’ll be worth easily twice that.

But if you sign up for the course, and participate as much or as little as you like, you’ll get the package for free: Scenes, notes, tips, interactive webinar and all.

That’s my gift to you, future writers, soap fans and, most importantly, ATWT fans who kept the world turning via your passion and devotion to us for over fifty years.

Are you up for it?

If the answer is yes, sign up here, and get the link to add your contributions to the first step!

(If you don't see a confirmation e-mail of registration, please check your spam filter; some of our messages have been getting caught that way.)


Unknown said...

I am not a Nuke fan, but I think it's a great idea. I think you should be fair and write an ending for Luke/Reid fans as well.

Can you do one where Reid is really alive or comes back from the dead somehow? And reunites with Luke?

Somehow I think back from the dead soap stories would be really fun to write.

ld152 said...

I'm not a writer, but I always enjoyed your writing as a script writer on ATWT, Susan. I have to say, I find this kind of hurtful as a LuRe fan.

I was a Luke fan first, then Nuke fan, and ended up a HUGE LuRe fan. Luke & Noah had three years of story. I'll be honest. Nuke's story over that 3 years made me bitter and I lost interest in them as a couple. I always wanted Luke to be happy and I saw that happen with Reid. That is, until Luke & Reid were completely ROBBED at the end in what I would call a heartless and cowardly decision by those above you.

In my opinion, this does twist the knife a bit more for LuRe fans. Nevertheless, I can appreciate what you are doing and why you are doing it. Maybe somehow you could work in something nice for LuRe fans along the way so we won't feel so robbed.

Unknown said...

I like the way this is set up. It's a writing exercise, rather than a true epilogue, so it won't feel like it's part of the show's canon. It's really an alternate universe, similar to the Valentine's Day and Christmas AU episodes. Should be interesting!

(And as a Nuke fan, I'd have no quibbles with a similar AU exercise using Luke and Reid in some form.)

Tirpse said...

I think this is a really nice idea. I have written stuff before but I have never taken a course or read a book, so this could be a nice learning experience especially since characters are involved I really love.

mel said...

I'm a Lure fan, but that really is a cool idea and very generous. And I agree with Shallow, it's like an alternate universe. I like this idea much better than an official epilogue...not only does it prevent further fanwars but it allows the writing to be more creative.

Sorry to see that you were hurt in all of this, btw.

2A said...

I echo Shallow and Tirpse's sentiments; I think it will be a fun and informative exercise in the process of how a soap opera scene is actually written.

kathattie said...

I agree with what ld152 said. It is hurtful, especially because it takes place only 6 months later and Luke and Noah get to have sex. It would have been nice if Luke and Reid got to have sex. Plus I would have thought someone like Luke would grieve a lot longer than 6 months. That does not give Luke any credit at all.

bellvue said...

Great idea, Susan, and sounds like a great way to learn the process of writing. Thank you so much for giving the Nuke fans a little something extra, and teaching us at the same time. Can't wait.

geerdha said...

I think this is a great idea. I say do what you want, teach what you want. It should be what you love and want to do, not trying to please everyone, because gosh knows that's impossible.

Never really preferred either NUKE or LURE, but if NUKE were the ones you wanted to base this lesson off of, please continue to do that. Then the LURE fans who aren't happy can do their own activity on their own if they don't want to participate in this one that you have kindly and considerately mapped out.

Unknown said...
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SoapFan78 said...

Hi! This sounds like a GREAT idea! I applaud your efforts and kindness to help create an epilogue for Nuke fans while also teaching how to write.

Bravo to you, Ms. Dansby!

Finally, I'm a bit surprised that there is any hostility towards you. You're doing fans a great favor, providing closure and education.

P&G has also continued the stories of Guiding Light & Another World online. Fans have the ability to participate and read those stories if they choose.

Moreover, after the TV show Star Trek and the Star Wars movies ended, the producers of those projects released books and graphic novels to continue the story.

In particular, the writer Joss Whedon has created several TV shows that ended but were continued as comics! Last year, Whendon released a line of Buffy the Vampire comics that picked up where Season 7 of the series left off.

Real fans have been ecstatic about this because the Buffy comics continue the storyline authentically.

So, I thank you again Ms. Dansby for following in the line of many creators who have kept alive some great characters and their stories.

Unknown said...

I'm trying to give Susan Dansby the benefit of the doubt. I'm sure she meant well. But with all due respect, I would hope that P&G and Susan Dansby would have enough common sense to leave well enough alone.

This is the same writing team that killed Reid Oliver by a freaking train of all things. Because the writing team had no imagination and it wouldn't be believable for Luke to go back to Noah in the first place, Reid's death was the easy solution. I don't see how that would ever change or fix the problems that Luke and Noah had.

So six months later...we are supposed to believe that Luke is done grieving, ready to reunite and have sex with Noah, who again he hasn't seen in 6 months. Huh? That sounds like a clear lack of understanding of characters. It doesn't sound like Luke at all. And it does not sound like good writing at all.

Treating Reid Oliver's death like some magic potion that clears up all of Luke and Noah's problems is absurd and not good writing.

No wonder soaps are in a bad state! My advice would be to follow Doug Marland's rules. Two of his rules were-Be Objective and don't change a core character. Two concepts that are ignored right here.

Unknown said...
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j said...

NUKE forever! Awesome idea! I'm new to this but I'm having NUKE withdrawls. This may bring closure & be therapuetic. Only problem, I need a QAF writers that integrate sexuality in a cool way. its part of being a human and yes gay guys love it with a lovable storyline, if done well. Miss. U NUKE!

Ron Klopfanstein said...

I just turned in my first assignment. I know I am behind, but hopefully you remember how I explained that it was hard for me with the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

I know I'm past the deadline and my extra credit idea it too late to be considered as a possiblilty, but I hope you'll read it anyway and let me know if I am on the right track.

I'm glad you're book is in print form now, I'll buy a copy. I was going to get one when it first came out during the writer's strike but it was only available in Amazon's Kindle format, so I waited.

I'm really enthused and nervous about this, so I'm excited about possibly getting feedback. I hope it's okay that I included Lisa and Lucinda in the extra credit part.

It's funny but as the months go by I find that I miss the characters that I never really got to see enough of the most like Lisa, Susan, Emma...I guess the whole "Seven Divas" bunch. They made every scene sizzle.

Anyway, I hope I get to continue with this project and have more chances to write "As The World Turns" projects like this.

Ansku said...

I honestly don't understand Lure fans logic. Lure fans were dissapointed and angry, because Luke and Reid didn't have sex while other soap characters had sex with different partners. They called it double standards. Maybe so. But I don't understand why Luke should still be grieving after six months. When a soap character loses someone, it takes usually like six days until the character moves on, not six months. And yes, soap characters often go back to their old lovers, ex-wives, ex-husbands, etc., so there's actually nothing earth shattering in this epilogue. Very soapy.

Jaff Parker said...
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Signals said...

Luke and Reid had an ending. The train, and Luke realizing they didn't have much of a relationship. The end.

Signals said...

Not really a Nuke fan. Obviously.

Signals said...

It's only an alternate universe to bitter Reke fans.

Signals said...

Did you watch this show? Luke didn't seem all that despondent on the 16th. He barely knew the guy...and they had 2 dates, and he's supposed to cry for ten years?
This exercise was a way to correct 9 months of misery.

Signals said...

Uh, Luke and Noah were both changed to facilitate don't drag Marland into this. Reid was a relationship obstacle character for Luke and Noah and a plot device for Chris Hughes. Luke and Noah would learn from all this mess and be together about a week after the finale. They are meant to be. If Reid wasn't supposed to die then you missed the story.

Signals said...

Especially SuperCouples!