The Ditchwalk Book Club is reading and discussing Rust Hills’ seminal work, Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular. Announcement here. Overview here. Tag here.
The full title of this section is The Series Regulars, as against the Guest Stars. As you might suspect, the title references television drama, and advances the assault Hills began two sections earlier. Continuing the discussion of characterization forward from the previous section, Hills states:
You can perhaps see better how it ought to work by looking at television series dramas, which have got it all just exactly backwards.
As I said in response to the aforementioned section on slick fiction, it’s important to remember that Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular was originally written in 1977. Television has changed a lot since then, but at the time Hills’ criticisms were accurate. Continuing from the above quote:
The regulars in the classic TV series never change. They are the fixed characters. The doctors, sheriffs, private detectives and police chiefs, who are the central figures of these programs, always remain the same. If they are shown falling in love, you know the girl’s got to be done away with….
Hills goes on to explain how guest stars in circa-1977 television dramas were the characters who ended up changing or being moved by the story, and as a first-hand witness to television of that era I can tell you he’s right. That’s pretty much what TV was like, and I’ll have more to say about that in the next post. [ Read more ]