Sunday, April 1, 2012

American Dad Break-Down

I've complained about how hard writing is for me before. Apparently I've become so cynical over the past few years that not only do I find my own stories boring, predictable, and illogical I also find most entertainment the same. I'll be honest, I watch a hand full of shows. My two favorites being American Dad and How I Met Your Mother. There are a few others, but those two shows share the same kind of story structure. It wasn't until I went through a marathon of both shows I realized it.

In my last post I created an early blue-print for a story structure I wanted to use for a 24 page comic book. I was already on the right path, but something was missing. It wasn't until I dug deep into my obsession of American Dad and How I Met Your Mother that I realized what was missing. Chekhov's Gun.

Both shows use this technique a lot. They also use its opposite, The Red Herring. Either way they introduce Chekhov's Gun in the first act of each show. And each show is broken into at least 3 acts, in some cases both shows will also have an A and B story with different characters, but not always. At each shows core is 3 acts, and that's what I'll stick with.

Chekhov's Gun is there for the writers to make sense of the Climax in each show. In American Dad's case I'll use this weeks episode. Roger's formula for X-tacy ( spelling? ), which Stan took, and gave to Roger in the past which got Francine to hook up with the guy who may or may not be Haley's father. ( confusing I know )

That wasn't the only one. Another Chekhov's Gun was when Roger told Steve how they take your Kidney out, which was acted out later at the end of the episode. American Dad does this a lot, and it isn't just in one episode. They reference old episodes more so than other shows. Archer is another that uses this technique a lot and the before mentioned How I Met Your Mother.

Now it seems like a cheap trick on the surface, but for a guy who only watches about 5 shows in total I had to wonder why I was enjoying them. Chekhov's Gun was one of the reasons. I like how stories have that completeness to them and force you to remember events that happened in the first act. Even drama's do this, such as Doctor Who...well that's about the only drama I watch now, but it isn't really a drama. It's just awesome.

This became an eye-opener for me. Especially since I'm really depressed because I can draw like a mad-man yet when it comes to writing the well is dry. I'd figure at this time I'd have my stories, I'd have something finished, but that little voice in the back in my head is always present saying " Not yet, you'll know when it's time ".

That's just who I am. I don't want to half-ass anything I do. I want whatever I make to be something I will enjoy, not something I shitted out so I could make a quick buck. The best way for me to get there is to look at myself, see what I enjoy, why I enjoy it, and emulate that into my work.

When most people do that, they usually end up copying what they like, but with a twist. In my case, I don't want to make something just like American Dad. I want to make something that utilizes Chekhov's Gun like American Dad.

By realizing this maybe writing won't be so hard for me and maybe my future-self won't be as cynical on my own material as I am now.

( see, I kind of used Chekhov's Gun right there, well maybe not, but it's practice )