I haven’t been an avid consumer of entertainment since I started writing, partly because I don’t want other authors’ stories in my head during the process. But there’s also the matter of what to consume — in that the quality of legacy media appears to be on the decline.

Essayist Derek Thompson (Is America Really Running Out of Original Ideas, The Atlantic, December 2021) proposes that the sorry state of the movie industry is founded not in a poverty of creativity but rather upon market dynamics that no longer reward innovation. To wit, the public patronizes familiar stories above all others, giving Hollywood motivation to publish a tedious litany of remakes.

But Hollywood no longer has a monopoly on filmic art, and Amazon has revolutionized book publishing. We are bombarded with content from every direction, and the challenge for a consumer seeking original, creative and uncommon entertainment is how to find it.

I discovered the Amazon Prime Video series The OA by accidentally accepting a free one-month trial. Drama with a science fiction hook, essentially the sort of material I’m writing. The show attracted a passionate following which it held onto for two seasons.

A similarly inspired series Night Sky didn’t do as well. The SciFi aspect was underused. The drama angle had problems in the relevance and pacing departments. Only eight episodes were produced, but both shows may be regarded as successful — everyone involved got paid.

I never worried about getting paid, although I did release my novel Elbert out-of-sequence for the express purpose of growing an audience. In so doing, I skipped over the middle trilogy in the Anye Universe books, fast forwarding to modern times, familiar settings and easy-to-pronounce names for people and things. In principle, serving a wider readership. We’ll see how that works out.

Ghosts of Ancient Vidura, my sixth novel, continues the story presented in Elbert. In publishing lore, the sixth book is the breakout event if the body of work deserves it. Reviews suggest it does, but what remains is for the books to be discovered.

Here’s what I’m selling — creative, original, entertaining, literary science fiction. Adventure, family drama, strange worlds, in that order. If you’re looking for uncommon, here it is.

The word-of-mouth effect takes place after you share this post. Thanks for reading, and please check out my essays, especially the Camera Familia journals, about growing up in Asia.

Are you a writer? I’m always open to community-building. Please post comments. I’ll be sure to reciprocate.

Image by 0fjd125gk87 from Pixabay 

2 thoughts on “Uncommon

Add yours

  1. Nice post, John! A writing teacher pointed out that there are about twelve basic plot lines or story types available to writers. Love stories, redemption stories, coming of age stories, and so on. Yet the possibilities for new ways to explore these story types is limitless because different people from different places and times will engage those ideas in unique ways.

    I have always believed that good writing comes from good thinking, and I think we are definitely in an era with a dearth of good thinking. Yet there’s always a remnant. There are always a few intrepid souls who won’t be held back or held down.

    This is good news because storytellers are necessary to human society.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Karen … thank you, again, for the kind words.

    Derek Thompson’s observations made me wonder if it’s a good idea to promote my writing as “something completely different” in view of measurable consumer preferences for that which has gone before. It makes me want to say things such as, “If you liked Cloud Atlas you’ll love The Illusion of Gravity.” However, I’ve been told there’s nothing quite like ‘Illusion’ and I’ve yet to hear from a reliable source regarding who I might compare myself to, and what they might have written that bears mentioning in a promo.

    Except Elmore Leonard, who reportedly used action tags for attribution, and whose work I’ve yet to consult to see if he did it the same way I do.

    Regardless, the strategy feels like something a person does when he doesn’t have the writing chops to explain his own value proposition. Not to say I won’t use it, if I can, while waiting to acquire the chops to explain my value proposition.

    I was encouraged to discover The OA and Night Sky. Both shows demonstrated that SciFi/Emphasis-on-drama can draw an audience, and I presume we agree that’s what I’m doing. Perhaps this thread will plant a seed for either confirmation or rebuttal and then I’ll have something else I can say about the books,


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