Monday, February 15, 2016

What Watching "The Walking Dead" Has Taught Me About Writing

Super Bowl weekend, while the guys were out in the country and my granddaughter was on the road back to college, I did something I never expected to do. I decided not to watch the Super Bowl -- too much senseless violence (the joke was on me - keep reading).

While flipping through channels, I stumbled onto "The Walking Dead" marathon. I’m not a fan of guts and gore, so I was surprised at how much I liked the program. TWD has lots of gore and graphic violence, but I usually look away at those parts.

As soon as the guys returned, they started watching too. Much to my surprise, my husband, who prefers listening to political programs, became hooked. Monday morning, he suggested we turn on Netflix and watch previous episodes. While binge/watching episodes of TWD last week, I puzzled over why the show is so good. My answer is -- the writing. The actors do a great job, but without the well written scripts or direction there would be no story for the actors to portray.
 
Here's why I think TWD works so well:

  • The writers are masters at suspending disbelief. (A zombie apocalypse, really?)
  • The writers are masters at suspense/cliffhangers.
  • Each episode starts with action, draws me in, and keeps my attention.
  • The characters are well drawn and realistic, ditto for the dialogue.
  • The writers make me care about the characters. (Although I get angry when a character I like gets killed.)
  • Most of the characters don’t have fancy names. (How refreshing!)
  • They are everyday people thrown into an extraordinary event.
  • The heroes have flaws.
  • The villains (most of them) have some redeeming qualities.
  • Every episode has a surprise.
  • The program makes me feel more than think.
  • The story gets to the heart of the human condition. (What does it mean to be human?)
  • The writers skillfully weave in the themes of courage, sacrifice, survival, resourcefulness, family, and loyalty.
While I'm a recent TWD fan, that's my take on why the program works. Any other fans out there? If so, what are your thoughts?

19 comments:

  1. I've never watched it. But then, neither had you. Maybe I'll find the time once I retire IN THREE MONTHS!

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    1. Good for you, Val! You will LOVE being retired!

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  2. Donna--I've resisted when others have encouraged me to watch it. But you made it sound so appealing, I guess I am about to succumb...

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    1. Hahaha. Succumb.

      I think you'll enjoy it. I'm squeamish but the story and characters are so good ...

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  3. Ditto what Sioux wrote.You did make it sound appealing. Maybe I can sneak this series into the Netflix queue!

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    1. Hi Clara,
      Good to hear from you.
      Hope you enjoy!

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  4. I'm a huge TWD fan! The early seasons are the best, in my opinion, but there are some excellent moments in all the later ones, too.

    I don't love all the gore either, but the characters/actors/writing and the continuous asking of how do we live now, what are the rules now, etc, are what keep me coming back.

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    1. Hi Madeline,
      I feel the same way! And my husband can't stop talking about the show.

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  5. I tried to watch this series when it first went on the air but was too freaked out by the zombies. I'm very suggestible and tend to have nightmares, so I avoid zombies, vampires, and werewolves...and other monsters.

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    1. Hi Patricia,
      It is a bit on the freaky side.
      And a big congratulations on your new book!

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  6. I am not a fan, but have been reading one book after another. You are right, good writing hooks you.

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    1. Hi Linda,
      Now that you're retired I guess you have time to do a lot of reading!
      Good for you!

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  7. I've never watched it, but you've made a great case for it. Maybe I'll give it a try.

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    1. Hi Lisa,
      If you look away at the gore, you should be able to make it. It's filmed in Georgia, so that should be a plus for you.

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  8. Hi Donna, I'm also among the ones who are not fans of zombies and such! I'm amazed by all the "weird" shows that are on TV and so popular. BUT, I also agree about great writing. Even if amazing actors are involved, if the writing isn't good, then the show isn't good. Great post!

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    1. Thanks, Becky. It's so true that it's the writing that makes a show great.

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  9. I had been wondering why so much hype about another zombie show. But now I know! Thanks. I don't have Netflix but maybe I'll watch it someway ...

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  10. So many of my family and friends adore this show. I tried one episode and it just didn't grab me at all. Everyone says I need to watch more than one episode to be drawn into the story. Maybe I'll give it another shot.

    Pat
    Critter Alley

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  11. Well, you certainly made me want to watch this show!

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