In Part 1 and Part 2 of our interview with writer Sheri Anderson, the Emmy Award winner revealed how the new trilogy of DAYS OF OUR LIVES novels came about, shared her thoughts on web series and how soap operas can be informative and still entertaining, and her last stint at DAYS.
In Part 3 below, Anderson shares her favorite stories, getting feedback from fans and more.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: How did you get feedback when you wrote for DAYS. If someone didn't like something how did they let you know?
Sheri Anderson: They might have gotten phone calls at the studio, but we got fan mail. My mother used to go through all my fan mail and sometimes you would see repeats and you would think it was the same people writing back. But you would really be able to see how many positives and how many negatives. We had this luxury back then of being only two weeks ahead from tape. From when the script would go in to tape to air it was maybe a month ahead. So if it wasn't working you could go fix it.
Now, because of the way they have to shoot, and the budgets, they are so far ahead. If something isn't working, they can't change it for two months. It's not as flexible as it used to be.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You can get immediate feedback today on everything on the web.
Sheri Anderson: We had fan mail and ratings. Ratings came out on Thursdays. Wednesday night everyone was a nervous wreck. If the ratings were slipping, we had conversations about what we were going to do to change it.
I was looking at the first book reviews and there were about fifteen or twenty on there. There were two that were sort of mediocre and those were the ones I looked at and wondered, "Why didn't they like it?"
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: ALL MY CHILDREN and ONE LIFE TO LIVE are going off the air and we've had three other soaps canceled in the past few years. Do you think it's possible for a daytime soap to be successful in this day and age on broadcast television? It's frustrating for me because most of them don't perform at a high level in terms of quality so we never really know what would happen if they were consistently good.
Sheri Anderson: That's the problem, who knows? I would think if they knew what to do, people would be doing it. Things are so bogged down in bureaucracy that you are just keeping your head above water sometimes. People will say, "Why don't they bring in new people to write them?" It's such a hard job, you have to have people in there who know what they're doing.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Of all the stories you wrote on soaps, is there one that stands out or that you are the most proud of?
Sheri Anderson: The favorite was probably "The Purse, The Power, and The Pawn" with John Black and Stefano. I think the one that resonated the most was the whole reveal that Bo was Victor's son. It was a major transition for a lot of the families. It was a big umbrella story and it was all about family and love and betrayal. I really loved it but it there were so many.
I didn't come up with the story but I loved writing Luke and Laura on the run on GENERAL HOSPITAL and all the romance. I love romance. That's a big thing for me.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: If you could go back to 1976 when you first started writing on DAYS and give yourself one piece of advice, knowing what you know now, what would you tell yourself?
Sheri Anderson: I would say to listen to my own instincts more often in later years. I had a tendency at times to say, "I'm not sure that's the proper story but I can make it work." In retrospect I might have said, "No." And I'd say it's a grueling job, so get plenty of exercise and plenty of sleep.
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Roger Newcomb is a producer and writer in New York City. Aside from co-hosting WE LOVE SOAPS TV, he has written and produced a full-length indie film, Manhattanites, and two radio soap operas, SCRIPTS & SCRUPLES and ROCKLAND COUNTY. He has also made acting appearances in indie web series IMAGINARY BITCHES and EMPIRE. He has consulted on numerous indie soaps and is currently an associate producer on THE BAY and executive producer on the upcoming indie short May Mercy Lie.