Today, Dee S. Knight is back to tell us why she’s a fan of Law and Order…hint, it has something to do with great writing!
I’m sitting here watching Law & Order re-runs during lunch and thinking of all the things I should be doing, like working on a short story due in a couple of weeks. I’ve seen all of the shows multiple times. They’re like old friends now. But think about it. The women are all fully clothed and look and act professionally. The guys look like they actually work for a living, not like they stepped out of a GQ ad. They don’t fall all over each other, they don’t fall in and out of love or bed. Jeez, how was this show one of the longest running TV programs in the history of television??
And the answer is, great writing.
They started with a story “ripped from the headlines” so the plots were already compelling and strong.
They populated the story with equally fascinating characters. The police sort through the puzzle pieces of a crime and persevere until they have the full picture and a suspect apprehended. The prosecutor has to use the facts to debate until he wins the day (though he doesn’t always).
The staple characters are the police and the prosecutors. Defense attorneys, clients and judges come and go, like secondary characters in a book. They add drama and conflict with their differing personalities. For the primary characters, we know them from their work rather than their personal lives. You had to watch the series for years to piece together that Jack McCoy has a distant, strained relationship with his daughter or that he’s had affairs with several of his assistants. The writers dish out back story in morsels, while developing characters we want to find out more about.
They made the stars three-dimensional by adding depth. For instance, McCoy, a professional and sharp dresser, ditches his suit jacket and tie to ride a motorcycle to and from work. Detective Ed Green has a bit of experience with gambling and Detective Lennie Briscoe was always meeting up with colleagues from other precincts where he worked. We aren’t told a great deal of background, just enough to know these are people who have lives outside the courtroom and squad room.
Lastly, the writers incorporated suspense. After hearing both sides of the argument, for and against the defendant, the jury makes up its mind. The case doesn’t always turn out in the prosecutor’s favor. Just as in real life juries, there are surprises, again, adding a level of depth to the show.
I believe the things outlined above are the reasons Law & Order still has an audience today. In TV as in a book, good writing is everything. As authors, we can learn from a success like Law & Order. And of course, as I’ve found, we can enjoy watching the show. Over and over.
A few years ago, Dee S. Knight began writing, making getting up in the morning fun. During the day, her characters killed people, fell in love, became drunk with power, or sober with responsibility. And they had sex, lots of sex.
After a while, Dee split her personality into thirds. She writes as Anne Krist for sweeter romances, and Jenna Stewart for ménage and shifter stories. All three of her personas are found on the Nomad Authors website. Also, once a month, look for Dee’s Charity Sunday blog posts, where your comment can support a selected charity.
Sweet ‘n Sassy Divas: http://bit.ly/1ChWN3K