Since the Downton Abbey Season 4 premier was this weekend, I thought I’d post some thoughts on what I’ve learned from the show. Writerly things, that is.
1. Character arc, character arc.
- This is something Downton does really well.
Even minor characters show growth. Evil O’Brien
grew just a tad last season. Mary's and Matthew's character growth is what made their story so compelling.
Lesson: Don't make your main character all good so he/she has nothing to grow into.
- 2. Subplots. This is another area where Downton shines. I love how the stories below stairs and above stairs
intersect. No character is too minor to have a story.
Don’t be afraid of adding subplots. They can add a lot of interest to your
story and give the reader someone besides the main character to root for.
- 3. Pull the rug out from
under your characters—again and again and again. This is something I love and hate about this
show. Surprise is good—you always want to keep your readers or viewers on their
toes--but often the surprises on Downton come out of nowhere.
If you’re going to surprise your readers, make sure it’s organic to the story,
believable, and consistent.
- 4. Just because something could really happen, if it's not believable in the world of your story, it’s not believable. There are so many plot points that been too easy: Matthew's recovery, Lavinia's sickness, Matthew's letter in Season 4.
If you are going to include an extraordinary event in your story, make sure
you set it up earlier in the story, otherwise it just seems convenient.