What is and what isn’t possible

When you’re rolling out a television show or series, you put together a bible so other writers and contributors understand the world you’re creating.

You’ve no doubt seen the simple rules that Chuck Jones penned for the “Road Runner” series of animated shorts featuring a hungry Wile E. Coyote furiously trying and failing (flailing?) to catch a zippy Road Runner.

1. The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going ‘beep-beep!’

2. No outside force can harm the Coyote - only his own ineptitude or the failure of Acme products.

3. The Coyote could stop anytime - if he were a fanatic. (Repeat: ‘A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim.’ George Santaya)

4. No dialogue ever, except ‘beep-beep!’

5. The Road Runner must stay on the road - otherwise, logically, he would not be called Road Runner.

6. All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters - the southwest American desert.

7. All materials, tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.

8. Wherever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s greatest enemy.

9. The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.

It’s a good reminder that creative limitations are your friends. Especially in drama where keeping the protagonist and antagonist bound together is essential

That’s not to say you can’t break them every now and then. They’re your rules. You can do whatever you like with them.

You can subvert them, twist them, tear them in two.

But only after you’ve established them.

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