We’ve seen eight Harry Potters, four Twilights, and six LOTR Films. By the time they’ve run their respective courses, we’ll have four Hunger Games entries, and – let us just assume — four Divergent and Maze Runner Films. Then there are the reboots of every show or movie you loved in your childhood.
Another Procedural cop show anyone?
I could continue on this train of thought, but I felt this honest trailer summed it up more humorously:
“She said we were important…. well what are we suppose to do now?”
We seldom see anything new. We go nuts over those few gems that somehow sneak through and blow our minds with an original vision. A fresh idea or an unexplored method of story telling that expands the imagination of the media consumer.
What’s odd about this is who we seem to blame for our constant bombardment of the mind-numbing same. Perhaps we don’t think about it, but Hollywood is just an investor playing it safe. Nothing makes its way to the screen, unless we, the viewing public, vote for it. There has to be an outcry that promises we’ll pay to see it if they only use their vast resources to produce it.
How do we make this promise? Well, in a lot of these examples, we simply buy the book. In others we watch the TV show, go to the theater, or we buy the video game.
What we don’t seem to realize, is that this perpetual machine of ‘same’ we all keep voting for, is what leaves us bored. Blaming Hollywood for its lack of innovation. You hear people say depressing things like, “all the good ideas have been exhausted.” The truth is that it’s on us the bloggers, the tweeters, the social media promoters, but mostly the consumers to push new ideas to the forefront.
We make new stories or ideas so powerful that Hollywood can’t loose money giving us what we’ve already voted for.
Why do we grieve over the exceptional shows that have come and gone. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, Lost, Breaking Bad. Original films: Inception, The Matrix, Eternal Sunshine for The Spotless Mind. We blow up in excitement at the development of shared cinematic universes, which Marvel has likely turned into the future of all blockbuster films.
Why do I say all these things you already know? The paradox is, that thing we love is the thing we kill. We don’t scream “Blow my mind again,” we find ourselves yelling, “encore encore.” We are just so bad about grabbing hold of a trend and creating so much of it that a new idea soon becomes, “uggg, this again, come on Hollywood, do something new.”
A few authors have illuminated this vividly in their writing. I recently read a novel called Brain: The Man Who Wrote The Book That Changed The World by Dermot Davis. A social satire, the plot of which showcases the effects of all this on the publishing industry.
A writer goes to start his or her new novel. He wants to one day be able to live off the body of work he produces. More importantly, he wants to sweat blood and tears to capture the imagination of readers. What worrisome thoughts cross his mind as he sits in front of the keyboard? What are the publishers whispering in his ear?
“Write yet another strong female heroine dystopian future with sparkling vampires, werewolf on werewolf love triangles, or some new spin on magical education.”
No? How about…
“hmmm, can I still get away with calling this a mystery thriller / romance if I cram an unnecessary love interest in here? Wait, if I manage it right, perhaps the publisher will think that they can get away with putting half naked people on the cover.”
What is it that is funneling all this sameness? The constrictive walls of the successful genre and our predisposition to want more and more of something we enjoyed until we all grow sick of it. We end up creating limits on our own pallets for how original we want a story to be.
The creative minds haven’t dried up. They’re actually told, “if you want to make a living telling stories, don’t be brave.”
Write a slightly different version of what everyone is already buying, or else we won’t touch your manuscript. Hollywood and publishers won’t fix this, frankly they can’t. It is not on them to do so, it’s on the consumers.
You see, the truth is, there is no shortage of brave writers creating fiction that might excite us with its originality. The issues isn’t their bravery, it’s ours. We all want to play it safe, after all, the very vote we cast is paid for with our money. We want to be certain that what we are getting is something we’ll enjoy… so we gravitate to more of the same.
In the spirit of this I recently dropped into a writers forum and requested that all the authors who considered their work: New, Odd, Weird, or Fringe to step forward. I was looking for stories that a publisher might not give a second look at, because there was no categorization that their books would fall into. These are the books that there Barnes and Nobles doesn’t know with what to do.
I compiled a list of the answers I got below. In some cases the authors told what category they wished existed. Feeling brave today?
- Fantasy Time Travel | Literary History
Review Excerpt: a magnificent book that will make you experience a myriad of emotions, warm your heart and soul, then leave a lasting impression on you as one of the greatest reads of this century!
- Urban Science Fiction | Comedic Thriller
Review Excerpt: Fantastic end-of-the-world science fiction, which also perfectly captures the experience of living in NYC as a struggling 20-something-year-old.
- Non-YA Vampire Mystery
Review Excerpt: Mixing recent apocalyptic and zombie stories with classic vampire legends, Rider has come up with a daring and eminently readable new take on both.
- Elemental Shifters
- YA Paranormal Mystery
- Political Fantasy
- Supernatural Mystery
- Paranormal Crime
Review Excerpt: Therin Knite has masterfully written a psychologically scarred character who at the same time is capable of maintaining a light tone throughout the novel.
- Werewolf Noir
- YA Space Opera
Review Excerpt: This well written YA novel sophisticated enough to please adults reminds me of the YA work of Robert A. Heinlein.
- Non-Medieval Fantasy
- Secondary-World Gaslamp Fantasy
- Fringe Fantasy
- Magical Realism
- Fantasy> Sword and Para-Sorcery (Paranormal – Sorcery)