My rules of writing – The Gilligan’s Island Rule April 27, 2012Posted by johnhemry in Uncategorized.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s not the Gilligan’s Island rule where Gilligan does something stupid at the end of every episode to keep your characters from winning. No, my Gilligan’s Island Rule is based on the first Gilligan’s Island reunion movie, which was broadcast far back in the last millennium (in late 1978, I think). In that movie, the castaways finally get off the island, and promptly run into serious culture shock problems. In one case, Gilligan and the Skipper visit a movie set where Ginger is attempting a comeback, only to see her running off the set in tears. “They want her to do a nude scene,” the Skipper tells Gilligan. Of course they do, Gilligan says, because for any film to succeed “now” it has to have nudity in it. Gilligan starts to describe Star Wars. The skipper interrupts him. “Star Wars didn’t have any nudity.” Oh, well what about…and Gilligan starts describing Jaws. No, the Skipper breaks in again. “Jaws didn’t have any nudity.” The ended up going through a list of the most successful films of the last decade or so, none of which had nudity. And this got me thinking (yes, a Gilligan’s Island movie got me thinking) that they had a point. Up until I saw that, I would have agreed that the modern market needed nudity in a movie. Everybody knew that. But it wasn’t true. In fact, the most successful films of the wild and licentious Seventies had gotten by without it, instead depending on stuff like story, characters, and so on. Since then, whenever someone says “nowadays you need to do X” or “your story has to have X” I think about the Skipper and Gilligan. Is X really necessary? Is it even important? Or should I be focusing on other things that really matter? There’s no set formula, and no particular something that will guarantee success if you do it and guarantee failure if you don’t. And that’s my Gilligan’s Island Rule for writing.