Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Jumping the Snark

The other night, my family and I were watching a movie on DVD. It was a comedy about a high school girl telling a lie and getting ostracized by her peer group and yada yada yada. Pretty funny, if a little more adult than the PG-13 rating.

About two-thirds of the way through the movie, though, it took a sharp turn south (IMHO). We learn that one of the characters, a high school counselor, is having an affair with one of the students. And she transmitted an STD to him. Funny, huh?

Of course, stuff like that does happen in real life, too often. But it sure seemed out of place in this little comedy. My wife and I exchanged glances, a non-verbal wtf. For the rest of the movie, we (anxiously) waited to see what other things might pop out of left field (thankfully, there were no space aliens).

My point? Besides high school counselors shouldn’t have affairs with students?

Actually, I have three points:

1) Writers need to know their audience.

2) Writers should adhere to the conventions set forth in their genres (generally), or risk alienating readers/viewers.

3) Writers need to be consistent within the world they’ve created.




Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

That's definitely a wtf moment!

If I started going off on an inappropriate tangent with my cozies, I'm sure they wouldn't make it through the gatekeepers. If, for some reason my agent and editor suffered a stroke and let it through, the readers would be really upset, I'm sure--it's not what they're shelling their cash out for.

Anonymous said...

Alan - Oh you are so right - a truly wtf moment! And it is a lesson about the kind of audience we want to attract and how to reach that audience. I think it's really important that before they sell their books to publishers, agents or anyone else, authors need to know who'll be reading the book and, as you say, what the conventions of the books for that audience are.

Terry Odell said...

Writers (or filmmakers) make promises to their audience, whether broad "this is a comedy" or more specific "the gun you see in act one IS important"

Sounds like this flick tried to make some kind of a statement, and stepped too far out of the box to do it.

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Hart Johnson said...

Yeah... I don't mind a full compelling plot that some audiences might find distasteful, but changing 'genres' midstream isn't fair. Nobody is going to be happy, because presumably the people LOOKING for that kind of plot tuned out in the first half when the movie was too 'vanilla' for them...

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Alan, you are right on the money about knowing your audience. With all three of my series, there is always something not appropriate that will be perfect for one of the others. The key is knowing what fits and what doesn't.