Kathy Fuller is a hell of a writer. She’s the best-selling author of over twenty novels and novellas, in addition to several published articles. Her publishers include Tyndale, Avalon, Adams Media, and Thomas Nelson. TVWriter™ is proud to present her here and hopes she forgives us for just plain being us and graces the site with her presence again and again. (Well, until she finishes this 3-part series for sure.)
by Kathy Fuller
This summer NBC picked up the Canadian show Saving Hope and shoved it into its Thursday night line-up. Remember when Thursdays used to be must watch TV on NBC? Me either. I’ve had my fill of hospital dramas, but I tuned in for one reason: Michael Shanks. However, my love admiration of Shanks only goes so far. Saving Hope is riddled with basic writing errors—and don’t get me started on the ridiculous overuse of lens flares.
So what can writers learn from a show that’s pretty much a writing failure? Plenty.
Mistake #1: Saving or Raising?
Titles are important. They convey the show’s subject matter. Take Criminal Minds. Those two words tell you the premise: criminals and their psychology. Titles can also link to a show’s theme, such as Parenthood. These titles are understandable, relatable (for the most part) and in today’s current TV landscape, unique. Are they brilliantly unique? No, but they aren’t similar to what’s currently on the tube.
There’s nothing wrong with Saving Hope as a title per se. It’s a little too clever in that the hospital is named Hope-Zion and doctors usually save people. But there’s a really good show currently airing called Raising Hope. I think I googled Michael Shanks/Raising Hope about five times before I realized he’s not on Raising Hope. At first I thought I was a moron for getting the two mixed up, but I soon discovered I wasn’t the only one confused.
When it comes to writing, nothing is too precious that it can’t be changed, adapted, deleted, or annihilated when necessary. I understand why the producers are clinging to this ah-mazing title that ties in so neatly with the show. But when viewers get the two titles confused, ah-mazing becomes annoying.
Want your show to stand out in the crowded TV landscape? Choose a simple, creative, original title that reflects the core topic, captures audience attention, and makes people want to tune in. Even if it’s the bestest title ever, if its going to cause confusion, come up with something else.
Later this week: Don’t just stand there, do something!