How NOT to Ruin a Soap


Interview with the late Douglas Marland; SOD, 4/27/93:

1. Watch the show.

2. Learn the history of the show. You would be surprised at the ideas that you can get from the back story of your characters.

3. Read the fan mail. The very characters that are not thrilling to you may be the audience's favorites.

4. Be objective. When I came to ATWT, the first thing I said was, what is pleasing the audience? You have to put your own personal likes and dislikes aside

and develop the characters that the audience wants to see.

5. Talk to everyone: writers and actors especially. There may be something in a character's history that will work beautifully for you, and who would know

better than the actor who has been playing the role?

6. Don't change a core character. You can certainly give them edges they didn't have before, or give them a logical reason to change their behavior. But when

the audience says, "He would never do that," then you have failed.

7. Build new characters slowly. Everyone knows that it takes six months to a year for an audience to care about a new character. Tie them in to existing

characters. Don't shove them down the viewers' throats.

8. If you feel staff changes are in order, look within the organization first. P&G does a lot of promoting from within. Almost all of our producers worked

their way up from staff positions, and that means they know the show.

9. Don't fire anyone for six months. I feel very deeply that you should look at the show's canvas before you do anything.

10. Good soap opera is good storytelling. It's very simple.


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