And yes, once again, I bring things back to soaps! But you have to understand, I spent about a third of my life (so far) at Soap Opera Digest. For 14 years, 15 if you count my internship with Soap Opera Weekly, I lived and breathed soap operas. I've only been away from the industry for a few months, so I still feel like I'm a part of it. In fact, I'll probably always feel a connection to it.
I do think that there is something to be said for looking to soaps for ideas on what works -- and what doesn't work -- when it comes to creating a character. Soaps air almost every day of the year and all of the remaining soaps have been on for decades. This means that the characters have to stay interesting for all of that time! The lame ones eventually disappear; the audience is savvy enough to recognize them. Even if the shows try to shove someone down the audiences' throats, the show will *eventually* get the hint and make that character disappear. But the great, iconic characters -- the Erica Kanes, Dorian Lords and Jack Abbotts -- keep the viewers' attention for a really long time.
Of course, writing for TV is much different than writing a novel. For one thing, I don't have to deal with actors when creating my characters. There were no contract or salary disputes when I wrote Melinda and Josh. They just did whatever I told them to do! However, I do think that critiquing television for such a long time gave me some advantages when writing characters. I pictured them as real people, as they would appear in a movie or on TV. I tried to incorporate those visual cues that would make them come to life -- sort of the same way that a screen writer adds visual cues into a script.
It's a shame that daytime soaps are dying in the United States because I believe that they're a valuable piece of literary history. They've gotten a lot of flak over the years, but they're persisted in some form since the days of radio. I hope that my book has half as much influence and longevity.
Please read and review REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD, now 99 cents.