Saturday, October 16, 2010

What is That Cereal About?

I used to think it was Charles Schulz who understood children the best. Now, I'm not so sure. I think Richard Thompson has at least accomplished the feat of becoming Schulz' equal.

And maybe this is an eerie view into how we understand products -- that each has its story. Of course the childrens' cereal is going to be more appealing -- it has, for them, a much more appealing story of activity, quick gratification and manic moving-on. The adult cereal has a more adult theme: Please help me poop. And that horse, well, I'm as confused as Petey" What does it have to do with digestive help? Maybe it passes on the message that by eating this cereal, one may continue to live the active, happy lifestyle one is accustomed to, even if the only time one gets close to a horse is when one is eating an unknown meat in Mexico.

So here -- and I'm sure you saw this coming -- is a good lesson for writers. Consider your audience, and how the story you're trying to tell appeals to them. Or doesn't. If, in reading your audience, you discover you're offering poo-poo help rather than the story they want, you've got a problem. Equally so if the story is compelling, but could be even more compelling if presented in a different way -- a graphic novel versus a straight novel.

But where to find that audience, in this day and age? I've had my novel on Scribd and on my blog for months now, and only a few perfunctory replies. But that's what's to be expected -- putting something up on the Internet like that is like shooting a shotgun blast into the air and expecting the shot to intersect with a duck. I've got to find some audience members willing to read and give this book a good critique.

But back to the comic strip. Bravo, Mr. Thompson. Your story is playing very well to this audience member. Please continue.

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