I am obsessed with a TV show. It's not a good TV show. In fact, each week, I find myself rolling my eyes at least once. But I can't turn it off.
MTV's TEEN WOLF.
Yeah, that. It's a show about a teenager who gets bitten by a wolf and spends the better part of 18 episodes trying to figure out what's going on in the world around him. It's not the Michael J Fox comedy from the 80s. Basically all it shares with that movie is a title and the high school setting.
It is much closer relative to the early Spider-man (and Ultimate Spider-man) series. Teen is given special powers, tries to save people, while keeping the secret of his power. Teen Wolf spends the majority of episodes worrying about the girl next door (or down the street) and crouching on roofs. He has a best-friend, a father figure, a single mother who's not always around. And a super-villain to face.
And that's what the show does really well. It does not resolve anything. The moment you're going to get a chance to breathe, something complicates the situation. Someone rings the doorbell at a key time. All questions during conversation are answered with other questions. The are cliffhangers galore. It really ramps up the stakes pretty well.
It's kind of a master class for writers from that aspect.
But, Dave, you said the show wasn't that good.
Right, it's not. Because the show goes all out to deliver that tension. It sacrifices logic and character to get there. Each week, characters do something dumb which puts them in jeopardy. And if they don't do something dumb, then they at least do something completely out of their established character. Not all of the plot twists make sense. It often forgets about the rules the show has already set up for itself.
But, again, it's doing something right, because I can't stop watching. And it's teaching me something about my own writing.
Because it's giving me ways to create more tension.... just in my first drafts. Smooth out the characters and the logic later. But when you really ramp up the stakes, you never know what's going to stick and work in the draft later.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go track down last night's episode.