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    From: STRACZYNSKI [Joe]
 Subject: What y'all have to remember is that...
      To: GENIE  
    Date: 12/17/1995 4:17:00 PM  

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What y'all have to remember is that we produce 22 shows a year. There
are 52 weeks in a year. That means that no matter how you slice it, you've
got 30 weeks of reruns in there.

RE: Talia...look, you've kinda got to look at this the way I do. Stuff
happens. Yes, Talia was hoped for to be a key to the solution of the problem.
(Not the key, but a key.) But if you do that, every single time, you become
predictable. It means you, the audience, can relax. "Well, we know now that
Talia will always get through this because she's the one they're hoping for."
Suspense: gone. Story: suddenly predictable. There's no rule that every
person who is hoped to help solve the problem in real life is gonna make it to
the end or BE that solution. So if you delete that person, now it's "Oh,
hell, NOW what're they gonna do?" which is more intrinsically interesting to
me than the other option.

Generally speaking, about once a year, toward the end of the year, I
kinda look around at the characters with a loaded gun in my hand, and say,
"Hmmm...if I take out *that* person, what happens? Is there anyone here I can
afford to lose? Would it be more dramatically interesting to have this person
alive, or dead? What is the absolute bare minimum of characters I need to get
to the end of the story and achieve what I have to achieve?"

It helps to really remember that this is a *novel*, and uses the
structure of a novel. That means you have to have some real suprises as you
go. Anyone is fair game. To the question "Why did you get rid of Sinclair?
Why'd you get rid of Keffer? Why'd you get rid of Talia? Why'd you get rid
of....oh, er, that hasn't happened yet...." there is only one answer: 'cause I
felt like it, and 'cause I thought it'd make the story a lot more interesting.

The stories I like best are the ones that ratchet up the tension and the
uncertainty inch by inch until you're screaming. This could apply to any of
Stephen King's novels (and recall that a lot of my background is in horror
writing). Mother Abigail in THE STAND was supposed to be their hope for the
future. So in short order she's vulture-food, JUST when she's most needed.
*Because that's interesting*. It makes you say, "Oh, hell, NOW what?"
(Stephen actually does that a lot in his books, and it's a technique I've
learned as well.) Boromir in LoTR was a capable, skilled fighter, deemed
absolutely essential to the Company of the Ring...oops, there he is by the
tree, full of Orc arrows.

Stuff happens.

Same here.


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