5 Writing Lessons We’ve Learned From ‘Suits’

Some people have nothing but praise for the writing on SUITS. We aren’t among them. And yet…

suits-96by Brittany Frederick

[April 10th was] the Suits season finale, wrapping up its third season as the best show on television. One of the biggest reasons it has that title is the writing. Series creator Aaron Korsh and his staff are teaching a master class on how to write TV every Thursday night. Here are five writing lessons that we’ve learned from watching Suits – and be sure you tune in tonight to learn even more about how television should be done.

Lesson No. 1: Don’t BS your audience. It’s so hard to really get sucked into TV drama anymore, because most shows don’t actually follow through on the threats they make. The main cast won’t break up, because if they did, there wouldn’t be a show. That character isn’t really going to get killed off (unless you’re on The Good Wife), because if they were, the Internet would’ve probably spoiled it weeks ago. That problem you’re worried about is most likely going to get resolved in 42 minutes, or if not, it’ll be forgotten about next week. That’s not the case if you’re watching Suits. The show threatened to fire Donna and then actually fired Donna. True, she came back, but she was gone for awhile, and when she came back, it was earned. Now it’s threatening us with Mike being caught and it looks like Mike is actually busted. A show is so much more suspenseful when you know that any obstacle in the way actually means something.

Lesson No. 2: Continuity is your friend. We haven’t seen a series stick to its continuity like this in a long time, and don’t think any show’s ever used it to its advantage as well as Suits does. So many shows retcon previous facts about their characters to fit the episode of the week, or just produce something that sounds cool and justify it later. Suits, on the other hand, has been remarkably consistent – and has made active use of its history books. The character Jonathan Sitwell, who recently offered Mike a job, was part of the Hessington Oil storyline earlier this season. We’ve also seen the return of other characters like Harvey’s now-girlfriend Dana Scott and Clifford Danner, the young man who was wrongfully convicted when Harvey was with the DA’s Office. These returns, mentions to past events – it’s rewarding for the long-term viewer, and it makes the Suits universe feel like a real world, rather than a show where parts are discarded when their use is outlived.

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This article makes some very good points. It definitely has us thinking: