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You’re losing male teens!

11 February 2013

This morning, I got this email newsletter from my publisher (the subject reading “Be My Anti-Valentine”):

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The conceit being that my publisher, traditionally known for romances, publishes stuff that has nothing to do with romance. That if you’re anti-romance, even, you might like this stuff. It’s a conceit I agree with.

See, in movies, there’s a thing called a “four quadrant” movie, and it’s essentially a movie that can appeal to young males, older males, young females, and older females. Trying to turn something into a four-quadrant movie is why you’ll sometimes see explosions showing up in a character drama, or see weird romance subplots in action movies. The studio is trying to get a buck or two out of everyone possible.

I’ve heard the same formula applied to books. Agents have said “it’s nice, but where’s the love story?” Or “I like it, but I don’t see how it’s going to appeal to middle-aged women.” It’s another reason I’m glad I’m with the publisher I am.

My own personal belief: not every story has to have something for everyone. Some stories can be for a huge audience. Some can be for you and three other guys. Trying to mold a story for the broadest possible appeal usually just makes for a boring, bland, recycled tale we’ve read a million times before (because we can’t offend 18-35 year old guys!).

Write the story that wants to be told. Your demographic will work itself out if the story is any good.

Question for the day: what’s the worst attempt you’ve seen at a four-quadrant book or movie?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Nate permalink
    11 February 2013 1335

    I’d have to go with the two most recent Star Wars flicks. The Anakin/Padme romance was ill-conceived and poorly executed. It was just a bad fit.

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