Thursday, September 5, 2013

Breaking Good

I never thought I would suggest this, but my son's got me hooked on the best writing class out there. It's a master class in characterization, plotting, and dialogue. A chance to learn, in forty-five minute segments, more than most 300 page writing tomes ever teach. What's this magical writing tool? AMC's "Breaking Bad".

For those of you either just coming back from a few years on Mercury (I was tempted to say meth, but of course that would be going for the easy laugh) or without any interest in watching television, let me say that I was once in your camp (not, of course, in the meth tent). But my songwriter son, who has a background reading screenplays for a production company, told me that "Breaking Bad" was unique .... so, several discs later, I'm as hooked as one of Walter and Jesse's clients.

Why is this show so compelling? Because of the characters. As a writer, I find that creating a character who acts consistently but also manages to be unpredictable is one hard feat. Season Two of Breaking Bad is a master class in creating just such personalities.  Many writing teachers echo the sentiment of screenwriter Blake Snyder, that an audience will follow a character anywhere so long as the character is interesting. How else to explain the national obsession with a former high school chemistry teacher living in Albuquerque?

Do yourself a favor. Take a hit of "Breaking Bad" next time you're looking to do good for your writing career. I promise, you'll be hooked.

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