Saturday, 6 April 2013

A-Z Challenge: F

My theme for A-Z is What I Learned About Writing from Watching TV.

F is a hard one. I wanted to write about how amazing Firefly is. Then I thought, no, there is no show which makes me love its characters and cry and care about their fate more than Friday Night Lights. I must write about that.

Both are true. But in the end I’ve gone for Friends. What’s my angle, you may think? How important it is to be funny?

Actually I was thinking about characterisation. Sure at times (lots of the time) and partly because it’s a sitcom, the characterisation in Friends falls into caricature, and doesn’t feel realistic. But I bet if I ask you to describe the six main Friends, you could tell me in a few words what they’re like. Monica is OCD and competitive. Phoebe is dizzy and eccentric but street smart. And so on. We know them. Or feel like we do.

This can be helpful in writing a character – especially secondary ones. What are their main characteristics? How can I stick to those and demonstrate those continually throughout a novel? Which doesn’t mean they can’t have nuance, and depth, and show different sides. But it helps to have in mind what they are like.

How to pick a quote. I’ll go for one of my faves:

Thursday! Look, if you need help remembering, just think of it like this: The third day. All right? Monday, one day. Tuesday, two day. Wednesday, when? Huh? What day? Thursday! The third day! Okay? "


  1. I loved Friends and still watch the repeats sometimes. Joey and Phoebe are definitely my favourites. :-)

  2. Happy A-Z Challenge! I wonder what the Friends would have made of it?
    Hope you can stop by and visit my blog (genealogy theme):


  3. I went with Firefly today.

    But I loved Friends when it was on. I occasionally still watch the reruns.

  4. Ermie - I love Phoebe, she makes me laugh!

    Ros - I wonder! They'd all have covered v. different topics.

    MJ - ah Firefly I nearly went for but I already did Buffy so didn't want to do too much Whedon!

  5. I could always relate to Phoebe.

  6. Friends is a classic! There was someone everyone could relate to in that group! :)

  7. Have you noticed that there's always a Friends reference for every situation? Funny when you consider how the episode titles always started with "The One Where/With____________." It's like they knew just how often people would refer to it in regular conversation.

    I think you're right about caricature-like characters at times, but also that they can be useful. Great post! :)

  8. I'm re-watching Friends RIGHT NOW!! Chandler and Joey are my favourites.

    Allison (Geek Banter)

  9. I always loved friends and sorry to see their not back. Guess they all grew older! I don't care for todays television and rarely watch it living with my mom. Actually, when the time comes for me to move, I won't indulge. I am not paying a big bill each month to watch virtually, nothing. But that is me!

  10. My daughters have all, at one point or another, been addicted to that show. I used to love it, before my girls drilled it into the ground. But, that being said, I consider myself a reluctant expert on this topic. haha.

    And I agree with everything you said, which reminded me to remark on something else. Monica is an excellent example, because she was the character they strayed the farthest with. If you watch the original couple seasons, yes, Monica was always a OCD and competitive. BUT, as the seasons continued, the writers allowed those two traits to swallow her up and completely define her.

    The Monica of the last couple seasons (like the one who planned Phoebe's wedding) was a total whacko bitch. But people accepted it because, by then, they loved her and it was just silliness. BUT, if you watch the episodes as many times as I've been forced to, (haha) you see how annoying it is. The writers COMPLETELY changed her character because the Monica of the first and second seasons would've never acted like that. She was WAY more likable.

    Friends was a great show but, if you look over the episodes you begin to see that Monica wasn't the only one they turned into a caricature by the end, they kinda messed them all up. I guess that is something to watch in writing to. That the funny character or the stupid character don't fall into the trap of only possessing that one characteristic. :)

    Sorry for writing a book in your comments!

  11. Chandler was my favorite! :)

  12. Regina - me too!

    DL Hammons - yes true, they got that v. right too!

    Jaime Morrow - yes there is ALWAYS a Friends reference you can dig up. I love the way they named the episodes - v. clever.

    Allison - ah I love Chandler and Joey separately and I love how they were together and how they showed that relationship.

    Sheena-kay Graham - Agreed!

    Sandy Campbell - I enjoyed Friends too!

    Karen Tamara - interesting comments, and agreed, straying too far into caricature doesn't work. Or it starts to feel v. OTT. This can work with a sitcom of course - they play on the over the top situations and make us laugh - but part of what was great about Friends is how much you cared about the characters and their relationship and when they were too caricature like it didn't work. The Joey learns French episode springs to mind - Okay to have Joey be 'the dumb one' but nobody behaves like that and it was silly to the point of not being funny anymore.

    Thanks for your detailed comment!

    Lara - LOVE Chandler!

  13. yay for f and b, the best letters for shows so far!
    so glad you picked friends & mentioned firefly & big bang theory (and i still cant believe blossom is on it!)

    but i have to have amazing race & cougar town, too!

  14. Friends was hilarious. When it first aired I was frustrated about having to wait for episodes (Australia was a long way behind in tv shows back then). I found a big fan online who typed up every script, so I'd read through them and they'd read just as funny as they played out.

  15. Friends was one of my fave shows, and I think I'm most like Monica, except I'm not a chef. hehe

  16. I just love the Joey-isms! I'm watching some reruns at the moment. Great post too with the link to characterisation.

  17. Tara - I know, I can't believe blossom is on big bang either! Every time I'll all LOOK BLOSSOM! :)

    Charmaine - how excellent that you found transcripts and readthem - and that it was still funny! Thanks for sharing that!

    Jackie - ha, I can't cook to save my life so I'm definitely not like Monica there ;)

    Heather - thank you, glad you enjoyed! :)


Please comment, I'd love to know what you think! :)