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"We should start dealing in those black-market beagles."
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July 30 2009

Firefly shines brightly for writers. Geekdad recaps the 'Lessons of Firefly: Learning from the Works of Joss Whedon' workshop held at the recent Romance Writers of America conference. Is Firefly's brief life span part of its appeal?

"Romance Writers of America"?

Does they know what Joss does with happy couples in his shows?
"Is Firefly's brief life span part of its appeal?"

I hope not. I think it was just very well written, had great acting and a fresh approach to special effects. Yes, kids: we had shaky camera and zooms in space first!
I think it is to some extent in that, over time there would've been more not so great episodes (just because of statistics and Joss et al being human), more plot developments that many people didn't agree with, more schisms in the fandom etc. Short as it is, there's just not enough room for all the "kruft" that builds up over e.g. a seven year run.

That said, episodes like "Out of Gas" and "Objects in Space" were, are and ever shall be examples of TV at its very best IMO - when you consider they were within the first 14 episodes made you have to wonder what the creators could've gone on to produce when they really started rolling.

So a big part of Firefly's appeal is also just that it was bloody brilliant telly.
Romance Writers of America?? Firefly deserves all praise from any and all quarters, but something about this juxtaposition strikes me as just hilarious.
Well, I don't write the stuff myself, but the Romance Writers of America is a serious group, in terms of trying to help people write better. They have workshops, conferences, organized writing groups, and help their members get published. What actually gets published and bought doesn't have a lot to do with them of course.

You know, just because someone reads or writes romances doesn't mean that they are not interested in other genres or have lost all brain cells. They are still dealing with character, still dealing with scenes, and still dealing with that annoying bit at the end of the forth act where various sub-plots need to start coming together while at the same time ratcheting up the drama and trying for a surprise ending. It's a hard genre in which to give the audience "what they are expecting but not in the way they are expecting it."

Actually, I think they might in someways have it harder than other writers. I mean, the medium is defined by an end which the reader knows before they even pick up the book to read the back cover blurbs. Which of course is the appeal in the first place. When life is hard and challenging, sometimes it's nice to retreat into a world where you know there will be a happy ending.

Unfortunately, the demand way outstrips the supply and so you get a genre where 90% of the books are merely rehashing every other book the author has ever read. Plus filled with elementary and unimaginative piss-poor writing.

Every time I think about all the crap romances out there (most of them), I then think "Yeah, but they finished their story, didn't they? They created something and put it out there. They got published. Someone is reading what they wrote." I've sat in too many writer's groups. The writers care, it's just that it's a terribly hard genre to write well and I don't think they can feed the muse by only reading other romances. I also don't think the genre was well served by the general acceptance of sex scenes either. They've become a substitute for actual plot work. Or an acceptable way of selling porn to women minus the brown wrapper. (Did you know women have sex drives? *gasp*)

That IS the nice thing about SF being such a smaller market--most of the chaff is never seen.

Re: the blog

It sounds like that workshop was just repeating various writer commentaries from the DVDs. In which case they just should of bought a bunch and indoctrinated their captive audience. ; )

(Reading over what I wrote, I hope none of it comes across as defensive or offended. That wasn't my intention. I just find the romance writer's problem interesting.)
That IS the nice thing about SF being such a smaller market--most of the chaff is never seen.

Ha! Guess you never heard Sturgeon's Law. Accounts vary but, to be brief, the excellent SF writer Theodore Sturgeon was asked to defend the genre that had produced so much dreadful writing--this was back in the 50's, before SF had any respect.*

His reply: "Ninety percent of everything is crap."

I haven't read much Romance but am glad when any writers want to improve their skills. They could do worse than study Firefly. Mal is a major Romantic Hero. And the show shared the fate of so many Romantic poets (to use an older meaning of the word)--when it died too young.

And I'm not saying that was a good thing. I'd love to be arguing with other fans about whether quality fell off after that amazing Third Season!)

* Was Theodore Sturgeon the inspiration for Kilgore Trout? He was Kurt Vonnegut's character--the genius writer whose work was neglected in cobwebbed corners of used book stores because he wrote SF. Much of Vonnegut's work could have been classified as SF, but he managed to have it filed in the "Literature" section.

So I'm not being brief....
I always thought the Vonnegut case was an interesting illustration of the way our society works. If something is respected it is reclassified out of a category that is not respected.
The writer says: "I agree with her on that but after Serenity and other deaths in Whedon shows over the years, I think heís gone to this well far too often. Itís gotten so every time a happy couple shows up, I start looking for the target on the chest of the beta member of the pairing."

This is very true, in my opinion. It is sort of Joss' boilerplate now.
Itís gotten so every time a happy couple shows up, I start looking for the target on the chest of the beta member of the pairing."

This is very true, in my opinion. It is sort of Joss' boilerplate now.
Dana5140 | July 31, 18:46 CET

OK, I'll take this on. Just how many member's of "happy couples" has Joss killed. (Two is my count).
Maybe because our guts get ripped out so often by the various relationships, they feel like metaphorical killings? But yeah, not many "happy couples." (I second your two.) 'Cause that would be boring T.V.

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