I've read all of the Sookie Stackhouse books. A telephathic waitress who falls in love with a newly outed vampire in a small and sheltered Louisiana town? Umm, yeah, definitely my cup of tea, but until last week, I'd never watched the HBO show based on the books.
So, what do True Blood and Donald Maass have in common? Or more specifically, why do I think Mr. Maass would applaud the efforts of the show? Because of the constant and unrelenting tension!
Every episode, no matter what problems arise or are solved, ends in a cliffhanger. Very few shows do that. Sure, a season finale usually leaves us hanging, and To BE CONTINUED breaks our hearts every once in a while, but every, single episode? I've rarely seen such a thing. Maass teaches 'tension on every page,' so that a reader won't be able to put down your book, and television must use that same tactic (replace 'page' with 'episode') to keep the viewer coming back. That's the only reason shows go for seven, eight, ten seasons.
As a side note, there are some fantastic shows that have great tension (and story and characters and...) that get cancelled, and I severely dislike the execs who make those decisions (I'm looking at you, Veronica Mars).
But back to my point. Writers can take at least one lesson from True Blood. Every chapter, every section of a chapter, needs to push our readers forward. Tempted to end with your character going to sleep? I sure am. It's easy, but don't do it. How about ending a scene with your MC being deliriously happy? Go ahead, but you better break her heart soon. :) I'm half kidding on those, darlings, but I'm sure you see my point.
Whew! When I edit my MS in September, I hope and pray I remember my own advice. ;)