watching, reading, and writing stories

Books, movies, and tv

on April 23, 2013

Have you ever read an awesome book and wished there was another? How about seen a good movie and hoped for a sequel? Sometimes our dreams come true, but oftentimes authors, or movie producers leave us hanging. Have you ever wondered why that is?

I think is has something to do with the reasons we engage with a story, whether it’s from a book, movie or even TV show. There are a few different ways to attract an audience and surprisingly, they all work rather well.

The first way to attract an audience is find something that works, and then repeat it. I know as I was growing up, I always loved series books: Boxcar Children, Hardy Boys, etc. Even though the stories were generally the same, I kept reading them. And this happens in TV shows too; every episode or book is set up in a similar way, some are better written than others, but odds are if you like one, you’ll like the next one too. There are plenty of successful sitcoms, like the Office, or shows that don’t have an overarching drama but still suck the audience in, like Elementary. Just like all the Hardy Boys books and Goosebumps stories we will continue to be read and enjoy them. Once a show, or book series has an audience, it can continue.

But then there are the stories that keep you on the edge of your seat. I read the Hunger Games not too long ago, and even though I think my favorite book was the first one, I had to keep reading all three books so I could find out how the story ended. These type of stories always leave an audience wanting more. TV shows like Once Upon A Time and 24 use the same idea, where you have to tune in next week to find out what happens.  I recently watched Kyle XY on Netflix and I was so drawn in to the back story and drama that I found myself watching 3 or 4 episodes in a row. These drama-based TV shows are similar to book series like Harry Potter, Hunger Games, or Percy Jackson. Not only is each episode, or book engaging and thrilling, but the story is continuous and always ends leaving you wanting more. Authors or writers in this category use the appeal of a continuing story to keep an audience interested.

And this is where our desire for more comes in. Because we are used to some stories continuing and engaging us time and again, we sometimes expect movies to do the same thing. Unfortunately movie sequels tend to leave us disappointed. It’s not very often that a movie sequel is considered to be even on the same playing field as it’s predecessor.

The reason, I think, that most movie sequels fail is because movies are made using the last category of audience engagement; basically giving the audience a compelling story. Movies stand alone, they aren’t made to have sequels or an ending suspense. They draw you into a story and leave you satisfied. Now I’m not saying this is always the case, but in general movies follow this mold. It doesn’t require repeating a generalized story, or leaving an audience longing for more, it simply tells an engaging story. I would say most movies, are similar to a novel. It has no connection to anything beyond itself. If you like it, you like it. And if you hate it, you hate it. There’s not suspense at the end, encouraging you to buy the next book, or watch the next episode. It’s just a story, but hopefully a compelling one. Yet this is where the Classics reside, those beautiful stories that engage us to the core. Movies like The Notebook, Rudy, Lincoln, or Les Miserables. Books like Pride and Prejudice, Treasure Island, and To Kill A Mockingbird. You can’t make a sequel to them, but you don’t need to, they are complete all on their own.

In the end, we all enjoy a good story, perhaps that’s because each of us is living our own story and hope that it is exciting and other people will want to hear about it too.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: