Monday, October 3, 2011

Mood and Tone and Mad Men

Here it is, Monday, and I almost forgot to write a blog post.  It's been a hectic week, loaded with a bunch of minutiae that aren't problems, per se, but aren't necessarily fun to deal with.  But that's neither here nor there.

What is here or there, or at least on my mind this week?  Mad Men.  Yes, the award winning AMC show which everyone else has been watching for four years.  I only just watched it recently, but I consumed it all like a man who went from a deserted island to an all-you-can-eat bar.  I had my doubts about the hype, but I found this show to live up to it in spades.

The show is a jewel on so many levels: characterization, performance, dialogue.  But beyond that, well above and beyond that, there is the worldbuilding.

Now, worldbuilding in the case of Mad Men isn't the same thing as worldbuilding in the SF/F sense.  This is history, not whole cloth, after all.  But it's amazing how much work is done with a few details:  the right costumes combined with excessive smoking, casual drinking and the occasional comment that would get you fired or arrested today.  Simple work, elegantly done.

The other thing I love about the show is how it both manages to foreshadow fairly, while at the same time throw curveballs as to where it's going to go.   That makes the most interesting drama to me.

How can I apply this to what I'm writing?  I can certainly take another pass at Maradaine Constabulary with a new eye to how Katrine is treated as the first female inspector in the unit.   Mad Men helped me realize that I was probably giving that element too light a touch.  I don't have to walk on eggshells, I can make it harder on Katrine.*

What I really love here is how a piece of work that's one genre and media can serve as inspiration for something completely different.  Will the Mad Men seeds be immediately apparent in Constabulary or other works?  Maybe, maybe not.  But it, like everything else mixed up in my brain, ends up back on the page.
*- Sometimes I think one problem I have as a writer is I'm too nice to my characters.  I don't do enough to really shatter the floor out from under them.

1 comment:

dbonfitto said...

Perhaps if Katrine's boss drank like a fish and smoked like a chimney...