November 21, 2019, 07:54:26 PM

Author Topic: Writing for divided, impatient milenial audiences  (Read 639 times)

Offline J.R. Darewood

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Writing for divided, impatient milenial audiences
« on: June 25, 2019, 06:04:28 AM »

Riffing off of this:

https://medium.com/fan-fare/the-wheel-of-time-still-has-a-long-long-way-to-go-for-tv-c652fe19a6a?postPublishedType=repub

I don't agree with most of this article, but this part stood out: "the Gandalf, Radagast and Saruman figures of the series are all genderflipped, Jordan used magic to put a skewed view on misandry and misogyny, and the series shows remarkable depth in historical and social parallels. There are layers of alien cultures, especially among the Aiel and Seanchan. The show needs to hit with that first, and that’ll be tough, given the story structure."

I think this is actually a huge modern dilema: using a regular trope-filled story to rope people into the trope-twisting surprise you have in store is a great way to open minds. But today people seem to be divided to the point where the more liberal readership can't abide a standard opening, and the more conservative readership won't abide the twist. There's no mind-opening, progression or intellectual growth to be had. I'm not sure what the solution is to engage today's readership with something they'll give time to develop instead of being able to judge in the first 15 seconds.

Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Writing for divided, impatient milenial audiences
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2019, 08:11:59 AM »
Force them to watch beyond 15 seconds? :P

Sorry for the glib, you're right - everyone seems to want *everything* *right now*, nowadays. There's no patience, no waiting, no considering and pondering... Being bored is a harsh failure, instead of the springboard for new ideas...

Of course there are many exceptions to this rule, but your question is a super valid one, and I have no idea how to answer. I'm just glad I'm not a parent, to be honest.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2019, 10:26:03 AM by ScarletBea »
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Offline xiagan

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Re: Writing for divided, impatient milenial audiences
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2019, 09:39:01 AM »
Force them to watch beyound 15 seconds? :P
Well, there were people who stopped watching Good Omens because Adam and Eve were black. That's about 15 seconds in.
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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Writing for divided, impatient milenial audiences
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2019, 10:28:10 AM »
Force them to watch beyond 15 seconds? :P
Well, there were people who stopped watching Good Omens because Adam and Eve were black. That's about 15 seconds in.
Gosh!
I think those are hopeless cases, right? Nothing anybody says will ever convince them to change their opinions, and as harsh as it sounds, we can only wait for them to die and not reproduce...

(I haven't watched it yet, I don't have Prime so I'm waiting for the showing on BBC later in the year)
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Offline Jake Baelish

Re: Writing for divided, impatient milenial audiences
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2019, 10:33:03 AM »
Were those the same people who then complained to the wrong network about the show?  ;D

The OP brings up a really complicated dilemma.

I get not being into old fashion/traditional/tropey fantasy (whatever way you want to term it). If it is the same as you read a hundred times before, or saw in a dozen movies, it does get dull. Some people may love it, all the time, but that is far from a majority.

I feel that way. But I'm also pretty open to the idea of tropes being turned on their head part way through. The problem is 'when' that starts happening.

If I pick up a book, or start watching a TV series, and the first hour or two of that experience gives no indication of this being about to 'subvert' my expectations, then it is going to struggle to hold me. The reason being that I don't know that it is going to unleash this awesome surprise or just finish up as another clone of a hundred other stories.

Sanderson talks about this in one of his lectures. How when he released Final Empire, which subverts a major trope from the off and then more along the way, another author released a book aiming to subvert traditional tropes too. But the latter did it about 3/4 of the way through and his book failed as a result.

It isn't just that people are totally impatient (though many are, an increasingly so), it's just that there are a lot of awesome options out there doing what people want, better. If a story is to subvert, it needs to do it quickly even if only in small ways to begins with (with a massive and still hopefully unexpected subversion later on), just so people know they are getting some of what they want. Done right then the BIG trope subversion can still be earth shattering later on.

For writers it's a major balancing act. I actually like the quiet 'get to know the characters' openings (a la Lord of the Rings or Belgariad) so long as that dies either right at the end of Chapter 1 or immediately at the start of Chapter 2. But I get those openings aren't popular now, so I don't write them that way. Which as we all know is why Chapter 1 is now usually the most difficult to write of all  ::) ;D
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Offline cupiscent

Re: Writing for divided, impatient milenial audiences
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2019, 10:52:46 AM »
Force them to watch beyound 15 seconds? :P
Well, there were people who stopped watching Good Omens because Adam and Eve were black. That's about 15 seconds in.

But, I mean, that was the goal. People who would be bothered Adam and Eve were black (and God was voiced by a woman) were going to be so scaldingly offended by the rest of it that it's best to just get them off the boat ASAP.

I'm on the cusp of Millennial (I identify more as Gen X but I hang with a lot of old Millennials) and something I have explicitly explained to my husband when talking about why I won't watch more of a television series is the concept of "buying my trust". It is no longer enough for a television show to not have anything in the first episode that makes me turn off. It needs to actively do something that reassures me that there's a story here I want to watch.

I have consumed a lot of media that has let me down in varied ways. Sometimes they fridge a woman. Sometimes they consistently fail the Bechdel test. Sometimes they have unthinking ableist or racist or transphobic or homophobic humour. Sometimes they just seem to forget that demographics other than white men exist. Sometimes they have a major story line about a woman's rape that's actually all about men's feelings. The dominant paradigms of media for so long have been things I have simply had enough of. If a TV show is just going to do that--or is going to be majority that--then I'm not interested. I have had enough of dodging around hazards to be entertained.

And I am lucky that paradigms are shifting and there's lots of entertainment being made now that doesn't have (as many) hazards! So why should I spend my time on things that might have hazards when I don't have to? This is why you gotta buy my trust. You gotta convince me upfront that this--this thing right here--has something to offer me. Otherwise, there are quite literally dozens of other things that might.

What does that mean? It means show me something that deviates consciously and fundamentally from those dominant paradigms. Your thing is all about subverting them? Great! SHOW ME just a hint of that in the opener. Have Adam and Eve be black--show me this is not the Bible story the way the dominant paradigm tells it. Heck, even just having an obvious Paradigm Character have something flipped--being a woman, being queer, not wanting anything to do with your prophecy you oppressive imperialist fuckers--can be enough to grab my attention and suggest there's something new to see here.

Some other examples of trust-buying success and fails that spring to my mind going under a spoiler tag because this is already long...
Spoiler for Hiden:
- Black Sails--fail. So many of my friends rave about this as an amazing piece of historical queer media. I cannot get past the rape in the first episode (first ep? second ep? eh whatever). The show hadn't bought my trust that it would handle the rape well before it played the card, and nope nope nope.
 - True Detective--fail. That is the most excellently made, magnificently performed television show that I have zero interest in watching more of, because I'm pretty much over watching somewhere-in-America middle-aged white men have angst while women are victims.
 - Harlots--outstanding success. I mean, this is probably a shoo-in for me because it's a dozen complex female characters having complex relationships, but it also set up unexpected juxtapositions of ideas and ideals in the first episode, and basically said, "This is going to be about sex as a commodity without sexing it up," and I was hooked immediately.
 - Now Apocalypse--success. I wasn't quite 100% sold on the first episode, but in that episode we'd already hit on fluid sexuality, kink and aliens, and it had been funny and clever enough for me to give it another episode at least. It turned out to be the smartest comedy I have ever seen about pretty young people having lots of sex.

tl;dr: give me a compelling reason to read this story rather than one of the other 324 books on my TBR

Offline Peat

Re: Writing for divided, impatient milenial audiences
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2019, 12:59:27 PM »
Cupiscent makes the obvious point to me - I have way, way more media that I want to consume than I'll ever be able to. If you can't persuade me in a few minutes that your media is awesome, I can find some that does.

Tbh, I think that you simply have to accept you can't appeal to everyone and that as long as you execute something interesting well, you'll appeal to enough of them that it'll work out.

Alternately - write the traditional openings but with one twist/inversion/change that indicates your goal and where you're going.

Offline Skip

Re: Writing for divided, impatient milenial audiences
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2019, 04:46:11 AM »
I have a problem with any generalizations about audience. To quote the ancient sage: it doesn't take all kinds to make a world, we just have all kinds. Which is to say, there's a reader for just about every story. I've got a nine-year-old grandson to whom I read Treasure Island. We just finished it and it took us nearly two years (he lives in another state). You can say he's unusual, but you can't claim he's unique.

I don't want to get into the silly squabble about Good Omens, but I will point out that the book was published in 1990, long before Millennials were even on the scene.

I'll also point out that writers were being advised that they had to hook the reader by the first page at least since the turn of the century. No, not that century, the one before it.

Seriously, folks. Write a good story. Write the best one you can and pay no attention to those who say "the reader" is this, that, or any other thing. There's no such thing as the reader. There are only readers and they are of every stripe. Some will even like the things you do!

Offline Bender

Re: Writing for divided, impatient milenial audiences
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2019, 05:59:30 PM »
The obvious "in" to this series is Moiraine... simply because she's the protagonist of the prequel. The foretelling of birth of Dragon is literally how the book starts...so they are following the script here and Moiraine is the lead for at least first 3 books.

The article is a biased and author is trying to push their own opinion as part of story. The polyamorous segments need dicey handling and the story can be cut about 4 books short...which the creators would already know having consulted Brandon Sanderson.

To conclude, I think WoT is wrong series to make a TV show right now. The scope is just too broad and must be thinned down a lot.
Not all those who wander are lost