I have been thinking a lot about the rhythms of television drama, and the trouble that showrunners go through when adapting written fiction to the small screen. Which, in the age of giant flat screens and wall-size projections, seems a bit quaint. However, with all of the IMAX films these days… but, I digress.
Television dramas have a rhythm that is very punchy. With written fiction, you can follow a single set of characters through an entire chapter. On television, a few characters have a moment that punches up a plot-line, then hard cut to another set of characters. Usually, you’ll come around to the original set of characters again, but sometimes you’ll only see each set once each episode. Because episodes. And sometimes, you’d only see certain characters once every few episodes, because the viewers will remember them.
It’s fascinating, if you’re a writer.
But, there are things you can do with written fiction that are difficult to do with television drama, like exposition. When a character steps into a scene, you can take a paragraph to provide some background on him or her. Or it. You can give the history of a setting. Hard to do that in television drama, except with a voice-over. Which, in itself, is also hard to pull off.
Thinking about the elements of written fiction working their ways into television drama led me to wondering how the rhythms of television drama could be worked into written fiction. So, I worked up a concept and wrote a ~9000 word “pilot,” just to experiment with this idea.
The basic concept is that the Continental Congress felt pressured by their European allies to elevate a king. Since the Revolution, America has seen three royal dynasties, and pressure is on the current king, Alexander. His only daughter Sarah is unsure she wants to inherit the crown, but she meets the rough heir to a Texas duchy who encourages her to reconsider abdication. Next in line to the throne is a notorious playboy who married a muchh older countess for her money. Meanwhile, a mysterious investigator seeks information on a missing heiress.