Television Techniques

Every TV show uses certain writing techniques to draw people in.

Photo by: Kevin (cc)
Photo by: Kevin (cc)

Have you ever watched a show before it went on hiatus? If so, it probably had a main character in a precarious or difficult dilemma, or confronted with a shocking revelation right before it faded to black. This is called a cliff hanger. It ensures that the audience will come back wanting to know how the issue is resolved. Almost every single TV show does this now. And usually this excites people, having them count the days till their favorite TV show returns. But what if your TV show is cancelled? This cliff hanger  ends up creating a very interesting story line that is untold. The fans are upset since there was no closure, having them turn to fan fiction, not ready to let go.

Some TV shows have a staple cinematic element, for example, One Tree Hill has the last line said in a scene tie into the next line in a scene. Whether it is continuing the dialogue but with different characters or saying the exact same line in a different context, this line ties all the scenes together. Other shows may have people questioning something, or trying to figure out who is involved in something and the very next scene shows that person. This hints to the audience who is behind it while still leaving the other characters in the dark.

Photo by: Nick Kenrick
Photo by: Nick Kenrick

This leads into the classic foreshadowing, which has the audience anticipate what is to come next. They may even be so subtle that people don’t catch it until much later. One of my favorite examples that I didn’t catch was in One Tree Hill when a character, upset about something entirely different, comments to her friend, who made a snarky comment, “Would the bride like to wear red today?” This was an empty threat, but later that episode her friend actually wore red. She collapsed on the floor with blood surrounding her. This wasn’t the obvious “in your face” foreshadowing, it was cleverly done, having no one pay attention to it.

Every TV show uses many literary techniques to make their show have more meaning. They all want to add some element to their show that makes them stand out or more appealing to people. I think that is what makes Television so unique, it can take two elements and add it together. The character growth and the literary side of books and the acting and cinematic effect of movies. To come up with the perfect combination.

-Stacie

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