Thursday, May 7, 2009

Our Comic Book Culture

Let's face it, the evidence is all around us. If you pitch your writing at a fourteen year old, you'll be monstrously successful.

And I don't necessarily mean that you need to write about fourteen year olds, I mean you should write for that intellectual level.

Hollywood has known this since Jaws and Star Wars, when Spielberg and Lucas proved that nobody really wants adult movies. People want escapism. And they want to feel young again.

Look what's current and coming up.

Star Trek, Wolverine, another Harry Potter, Angels and Demons - and yes I believe Dan Brown (deliberately or not) aims his stories at an intellectual age of fourteen. I mean he's not exactly challenging to read, is he?

James Patterson too has finally come out of the closet to write YA novels - which, to me, read just like his other novels but without the blood and violence.

The big market is pubescent.

The late great Michael Chrichton also understood this principle. Look at the body of his work: Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, Congo. Prey and many others that are more comic book than literary.

Just think of what's presented to us as important nowadays - fictional fantasies that take us out of ourselves and present a more compelling version of reality: Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Transformers, The Matrix, X-Men, Iron Man, Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, next up is the Green Lantern, and now Twilight - part of the seemingly endless fascination the public has with vampires.

Horror too is now the object of cult teenage status from Freddie Kruger to Jigsaw to endless remakes of post-heroic slashers and monsters like Alien and Predator.
And fantasy doesn't just mean dragons and sorcery any more.

Die Hard to me is fantasy, as is James Bond.

I would also argue that High School Musical and the consistent plethora of teen dramas do not reflect real life any more than The Waltons did. They're idealised versions of a reality none of us actually live.

We want escapism yes, and we want to be taught lessons about reality - but in a comic book context.

Is this a bad thing?

Not for the budding fiction writer.

If you've ever tried to write serious novels about adult issues, you'll know how hard it is to get them published.

Why is this? Let's look at the facts.

Of the 200,000+ books published every year, only around 5% of them are fiction - and 90% of those are genre fiction, which generally sells at least FIVE to TEN TIMES better than literary fiction.

The publishing industry responds to demand. (Sorry if this is a shock to you!) And the public are demanding fantasy - not just classical genre fantasy - but fantasized reality too: thrillers, romance, horror, mystery, whatever ... just so long as it's not too real!

The Market is Pubescent

Just thought I'd put that message in bold in case you were still in any doubt.

The evidence is clear.

If you want to be a successful fiction writer, go with the flow. Give the people want they want: heroic fantasy, the hero's journey, the quest for good against evil, the super-protagonist set against impossible odds.

"Comic Book Reality" is what appeals - and sells.

Stories are meant to transport us - and clearly it's those that transport us the most that become successful - and monstrously so.

If you're a new fiction writer and you're wondering which way to go -

Or if you're a struggling author wondering how to finally get your work published -

Or if you're a working writer who wants a taste of the big time -

Write fantasy, or more specifically: comic book reality - that's my sincere advice to you.
And where better to start than here?

Good Luck and Keep Writing!

rob@easywaytowrite.com
Your Success is My Concern
The Easy Way to Write
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The Easy Way to Write

Welcome to the official blog of the Easy Way to Write from Rob Parnell, updated weekly - sometimes more often!