May 31, 2012

In Which I Prove that Watching Old TV Shows is Considered "Working"

I couldn't fall asleep last night, so I fired up an episode of the old Dick Van Dyke Show online.

(Not only is this show funny, it's packed full of writing lessons: Pacing, dialogue, characterization; humor. You could do lots worse than try to pick apart one of these episodes and apply it to your story's structure. And have a lot less fun.)

I chose an episode called "Just a Friendly Game of Cards." I've seen every episode of this series probably a zillion times, but I haven't seen THIS episode in a long time--not since I started writing seriously--and for the first time, my writer's brain was struck by the structure of this episode. It started with a summary of the entire plot, revealing *everything*, then played out that plot in a prolonged flashback.

It was hilarious, and it worked, but today I'm still trying to figure out WHY it worked, and WHY writer Carl Reiner decided to structure that episode the way he did.

Any thoughts from the peanut gallery?

In the meantime, I might have to hope for insomnia again tonight, to try and figure out this puzzle.

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