Thursday, 29 March 2012

Top Five Things Downton Abbey Has Taught Me About Writing

I have recently joined the ranks of millions of viewers captivated with the personal lives of both the aristocrats and the staff at the majestic manor.

And why do we love it so? One word—conflict. Well, yes, and maybe the jewelry, and dresses, and how everyone talks fancy. But, as a writer, I wanted to examine how Julian Fellowes managed to create a huge cast of characters that we embraced so quickly. Psst, I'm only just starting Season spoilers please! 

Here are the top five things Downton Abbey has taught me about writing.

1. Every character should be either rich, good looking, or in a position of authority.

Mr. Carson, Head Butler
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2. The main love interests should despise each other at first, then secretly hide their affection. It also helps if they're never single at the same time.

Mathew and Mary
photo credit,

3. Create a sympathetic character who continuously battles hardships and bad luck, then finally gets what he wants most—only to have that taken away by an unforeseeable complication.

Mr. Bates and Anna
photo credit,

4. One character should be able to say whatever witty insult they please, without suffering any consequences.

Dowager Duchess aka the awesome Maggie Smith
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5. The villain should have a sidekick who is just as deceptive, yet has a concealed capacity for compassion and may not always go along with the plan—especially if they're feeling unappreciated by the villain.

Thomas and Miss O'Brien
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And here's the bonus...When in doubt, add a dinner scene.

Norman Rockwell...almost
photo credit,

Who's your favorite character on Downton?


Kimberlee Turley said...

I haven't seen this show before, but I think I'd like to start.

Heather M Bryant said...

I love Mary's compete lack of emotion for anyone but herself. It makes for an interesting character. And of course, Maggie Smith makes me smile every time she's onscreen.

BR Myers said...

It's so addictive!

BR Myers said...

True, she's growing on me though. I like how she's so strong.

I'm not sure if it's the cutting words, or the fact that Maggie Smith is saying them that makes it seem like she has the best lines.

Cecilia Robert said...

haha Bethany, I loved this post. I'm a fan of Downton Abbey, thought I don't watch it as consistently as I would like to. Great, great post.:)

BR Myers said...

Thanks, Cecilia.

Sarah Tokeley said...

The Dowager Duchess is my favourite, closely followed by poor Bates :-)

BR Myers said...

Ah, yes poor Bates. I love Daisy. She's like Amelia Bedeilia.

Anonymous said...

Probably not the demographic for this. I tried to watch the first epi and I kept thinking of Steve Harvey's routine on "Titanic."

BR Myers said...

His bit about the band playing as the boat went down compared to Cool and The Gang was hilarious. ;)

Jen Downey said...


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