Avoiding the Melodrama

In a writing class I took this year, the instructor told me that one of my (many) challenges as a writer would be to avoid falling into melodrama.

 

Of all the criticisms I received, this one was the most understandable. 

 

My first memories are of melodrama.  I was a die-hard soap opera watcher from the age of 4.  When the powers-that-were assessed the local preschoolers for their “readiness” to enter the school system, they asked us each the question, “What is your favorite television program?”

 

“Can I have two?”  I countered.

 

“Sure.”  They smiled.  Surely this little urchin couldn’t decide between Sesame Street and Mr. Dress-Up.

 

Another World and General Hospital.”   They stopped asking questions.

 

When women gathered in kitchens, the best stories weren’t lists of chores completed, or narratives about their children’s accomplishments.

 

They were the tales of drunken fights, affairs (real or suspected), money troubles, anything with a whiff of the salacious.

 

When you come from somewhere with spaces like these,

 

 

you’re going to need some pretty big stories to fill them up.

 

(photo by Etep)

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13 responses to “Avoiding the Melodrama

  1. so you find the happy medium…somewhere between johnny won the spelling bee and susan down the street is having an affair is…

    while on the way to have ice cream to celebrate johnny’s mad skills with the alphabet, we saw susan and a man who was not her husband sucking face on the front porch…which forced an impromptu sit-down with little johnny and me explaining adultery, alimony and child support over mint chocolate chip!

    i want to take a writing class…i just took tech writing, but that was no fun!

  2. I grew up on Days of Our Lives. Marlena has always been hot!!

    So, what’s next for you fiction-wise . . . ?

  3. Melodrama isn’t all bad… my first and still favorite story is entirely melodramatic. It’s about a girl who narrowly escapes being devoured by a giant spider woman. It’s also about adolescence though, so the melodrama kind of… works. I say, write what makes you feel good and you’ll find an audience.

  4. melodrama is bad? shit. who knew? [crumples blog into ether-scraps, misses desktop trash can by a mile… unable to see through tears….]

  5. Yet it works so well when blogging. . . .
    Wait, if it’s bad, why is everyone reading Harliquins?

  6. I love melodrama too. Course, that photo looks a lot like this place. Same shit, flat land, no trees, and people, people, people.

  7. I could never really get into the melodrama on television. I’m too much of a drama queen and am way too involved in the lives of others to consider that hoo-ha anything other than boring. Except for when Erica Kane was screwing about 4 different guys at the same time on All My Children. Now THAT I could relate to.

  8. I was a HUGE Another World fan! AW is almost as Canadian Staple as Maple Leaf bacon isn’t it?

    One of my highlights in high school was meeting Cas Winthrop! Mmmmmmm…. give me HIS melodrama any day!

  9. I looooooove other peoples tales of drama, though I’ve taken to avoiding my own as of late. Life is so much simpler when you can focus on other people’s issues. ;)

    I was all about Days of Our Lives (back when Stefano had Marlene all up in the gilded cage waiting for John Black who was being seduced by Kristin and her weird ass twin!) and General Hospital (back when…uh, something about Lucky, that’s pretty much it).

    Now my drama consists of syndicated reruns.

  10. Do you think TJA will send out our stories? How was the last class anyway?

  11. nikki: I’m on a writing-class hiatus; I need to just WRITE already.

    tysdaddy: See that picture of prairie? I think it’s in there, somewhere.

    Meagan: Thanks, I will.

    daisyfae: He wasn’t saying it was bad, just that my work veers off into it, to the detriment of the story. He was absolutely right, too. (Ether-scraps. Every time I junk a post, I will picture them.)

    faemom: No one admits it, though, do they?

    Kitty: That plays into the whole “Alberta thinks it’s Texas” thing I talked about before.

    mongo: Wasn’t Erica an awesome slut? Kind of took it to a whole other level.

    Kim: My sister met “Jake”. Asked him if he knew Anne Heche was a nutter, even back when she was Marley/Vicky. (He did.)

    Em: I haven’t actually watched the soaps in a long, long time. It messes me up, because whenever I’d try to start up again, all the actors would switch shows. “He can’t be Shawn on this show! He’s LUKE on the other show! WTF?”

    michael: Um, you didn’t make the last class either?

  12. Oddly related, in 94 I spent the Summer in the states doing whatever work came along, and catching chicken pox.

    While I was bed ridden, I became addicted to Another World.

    The dude with the pony tail, and the bird who kept getting fat, then thin, then fat, then thin the most.

    The End.

  13. Oh god, how mortified am I that as I read that comment, my pulse quickened, and I had to resist the urge to yell out “Oh! I know! You’re talking about Carl! And Paulina!” Lovely story, xBox. You’re all layers, you little onion, you.

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