writertracy (writertracy) wrote,

“It Gets Better!” (But I may not be around to see it.)

Creators of this show asked fans to stick around for muliple episodes because the show "gets better." It really didn't.

When it comes to entertainment, I’m getting sick of hearing statements to the effect of “just give it another chance. It gets better!”

Whether we’re talking about a new TV show that takes 6 episodes to get better, a movie that doesn’t really hit its stride until 30 minutes into the film or a comic book launch (Yes, I’m harping on the DCNU again) that didn’t quite live up to the hype, I’m tired of having creators say things like “stick with me. I’ve got a plan. It’ll get better, I promise.”

And I’m doubly sick of hearing “you just don’t get what I’m trying to do here,” as a creator’s response when fans don’t jump right on board with a concept. That just strikes me as being self-indulgent whining.

Here’s the thing, writers. I went to school to be a newspaper reporter. There, they taught me to write a story that leads with a hook: A bit of information that is designed to reach out from a page, grab my readers by the ears, pull them into a story and not let go.  Because, as my professors taught me, people have a short attention span. You have a limited amount of time to grab their attention and hold it. And once you’ve lost them, they won’t come back.

The writer for Red Hood and the Outlaws responded to fan backlash over the first issue by telling fans to give him time to develop his story.

And why should they?  The purpose of entertainment is to be entertained. Unless you read highbrow literature. I’m not quite sure what the purpose of literature is – other than to give the readers and writers and excuse to pat themselves on the back because they read or write literature. Do they even enjoy the work, or just the back patting part? But I digress.

If a consumer of entertainment wants to be entertained, why should they stick with a TV show for six episodes before they actually get that entertainment?  Why should they read half of a doorstop epic fantasy before they get any kind of payoff? Why wade through the epically bad romance of Padme and Anakin just to get to the action scenes at the end of the first three episodes of Star Wars?

To a degree, movies can get away with this a little more than books, comics or television. Once you have paid your money and sat down, you are less likely to leave a theatre. (The one time I did, the manager gave me a pass to a different move instead of the requested refund and told me to look at the movie reviews next time before deciding to go to a movie.)

But when you have episodic entertainment like TV shows or comics, your audience makes a week to week decision whether they will support your next episode.  Even many book readers will skim over the first chapter of a book before deciding to purchase your work.

The point is that your readers/viewers are giving you something for their entertainment (time at the very least. Maybe money as well) for that, they are entering into a contract with you to be entertained. If your story telling lacks in it’s opening, you owe it to yourself and your audience to improve that skill, instead of just making excuses.

Tags: monday musing
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