Characters and Stories That Continue–Forever

generalhospital1General Hospital will be turning 50 this year. Yes, that’s right. The soap opera centered around a hospital in the upper New York State town of Port Charles has been around for half a century.
I’m not one of the fans who’ve watched if religiously for the last fifty years.
I guess I’m a fair weather fan.
I watched when I was a teenager in the early 1960s when it was Dr. Steve Hardy and nurses, Audrey and Jessie.
I watched later during the “Love on the Run” story line with Luke and Laura.
I watched when Sonny Corinthos came to town as the mobster with a heart of gold.
But I didn’t watch every day until One Life to Live (the soap I watched all the time) was taken off the air and they combined some of OLTL’s characters into the GH story line.
And soon I was hooked on General Hospital again.
As I write this I’m watching a recorded episode that is not just bringing in old characters but also combining a story line from GH’s spin-off, “Port Charles”.
I’ve so enjoyed the show that I’ve dreamed about the characters.
And that got me to thinking about writing a series and why books in a series are so popular.
Think Stephanie Plum and Lula. Think Jack Reacher. Think Disc World. Think KoKo and YumYum
When we read a book, we become part of the story. If it’s well-written, we identify with at least one character. When we finish the book, we feel as if we’ve lost a friend. That’s why we reread beloved books, to regain that contact with friend/friends. They’ve become part of our life. And in some way, we’ve become part of their “lives”.
As writers we sometimes develop characters that won’t leave us alone even after we’ve written “The End”. And so we have to write the next book in the series—a series we didn’t even know we wanted to write.
So Happy Golden Anniversary to “General Hospital”.
Thanks for being around almost as long as I have.
And thanks for showing this writer how to make memorable characters and stories that live even after I turn off the TV.

2 thoughts on “Characters and Stories That Continue–Forever

  1. Well said. I loved General Hospital and watched it religiously until about three years ago when I got into the NTD books. I loved Sonny and Jason, and I think the soaps are a great way to observe body language. Thanks for a great post.
    Barbara of the Balloons


  2. There’s something magical about being able to follow a character through a series, to see how they change and grow from one book to the next. However, I’ve learned to be a little skeptical about series.

    I just finished reading a trilogy where the first book had a strong, complicated, interesting protagonist. I fell in love with that character and couldn’t wait to read the rest of the series. Unfortunately, in the subsequent books she became a stereotypical teenage girl. I feel seriously let down. I’m rather angry with the author and can only hope that when I re-read the first book I can forget all the foolishness of books 2 and 3.

    But not every series is like that one. We still have Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and the Ender novels. They’re good examples of how to do it right. And apparently so is General Hospital!


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