"The parallels between television soap operas and having a few drinks are striking," commentator Joseph Boyd remarked in 1983. "Some people enjoy them occasionally, while some become addicted. Some can take the soaps or leave them alone. Others make a living creating them." One soap watcher acknowledged, "Those actors really portray the characters. And whoever writes them is really fantastic, really keeps you interested. The dialog is something."
Irna Phillips "invented the soap opera on radio, and took it successfully into television." She created the top rating radio soap, 'Road of Life' in 1937. Irna told Mary Jacobs in 1939, "I just write what I have lived and seen. If you stick to the truth and use people you've known as your models, you have no trouble at all. When I need a milkman in a show, I talk to the milkman who delivers our milk, and make a note of his conversation, his way of thinking. For Dr. Brent, the leading character in 'Road of Life', I have the assistance of Dr. Albert E Luckhardt, a practicing physician in Chicago...I rarely use my imagination. I stick to fact, sometimes with surprising results."
Keith Moore worked in radio and television. He confessed in 1983, "When I was a student at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, I got hooked on 'Love Is A Many Splendored Thing'. I'd even cut classes to watch it. So I've always been interested. Then about 5 years ago (around 1978) my son was born. Feeding time was 9:00a.m. I started watching 'All My Children', then other soap operas. I talked about it at work and before long I was asked to broadcast a show about the soaps."
Keith observed, "Every soap opera is different. On some, like 'One Life To Live', the plot is not the most important thing. Building the character is. Others, like 'General Hospital' are plot shows. They're mysteries. The storyline moves fast." Agnes Nixon maintained, "We try to give people something to relate to in our characters. We try to be informative and take people out of themselves. Everything a writer experiences is grist for the mill. Many characters have had their genesis in real people. They're never whole cloth, but the character is not the same as the real person." Keith also added, "'All My Children' is the best combination of mystery and character development, and it's the only one which has comedy. They have a very comedic actress, Dorothy Lyman, and her character, Bobo Gardner, is played at a high comedic level."
Agnes made the point, "As far as evil or wrongdoing are concerned, crime must not pay in the ethical sense...If a character is really bad, there's nowhere to go with them." Agnes made known she found it was truer to life to create characters who "are not out-and-out villains, but a mixture of good and bad. We deal more in grays and whites. There are no easy answers in life. We try to open windows. Often today (1983) people (or the audiences) are being asked, 'What would you do?'"
In 1981, David Jacobs created 12 episodes of the soap opera 'Behind The Screen', about a make-believe soap opera called 'Generations'. He explained, "This was out-and-out serialized drama. But it was on tape rather than film and I felt I ought to learn tape. I didn't study the soaps. I didn't want to have the long scenes or the pace of a soap…'Dallas' is about power, which is based on money and sex. 'Behind The Screen' deals with Hollywood." Mel Ferrer starred, "When they sent me the script, I was immediately interested because David Jacobs' name was on it. David created 'Dallas', and I am a mad 'Dallas' fan. I think Larry Hagman has made a creative and inventive character out of J.R. and I have an eye for Sue Ellen."