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When creating a piece of a media we need to ask “did I choose the right form for my Bright Idea?” Should it really be a book, comic, movie, game, or is it better suited for another form?
Some readers may be nodding, others may be curious. Let me explain by examples.
I’m no fan of the Twilight series, yet I found the lush-looking movies beautifully overdone. When I saw the manga it impressed me as more interesting than the books. At least to me, Twilight seemed better suited to a visual medium. Yes, it was a commercial success, but I can’t shake the feeling that had it been an anime/manga there might have been more to it, and maybe some useful artistic lessons.
As a less personal example, consider an issue that I discuss with fellow authors – those series that seem to be Open World games or RPGS in novel forms. As much as I love worldbuilding myself, I know 800 pages of “it really picks up by the second book” doesn’t interest people. Some novels or series seem best – or became – things better suited to games or fictional guides.
If you’re a creative, especially a self-published one, you should ask if your story and setting fit the medium you chose. Some people might be fortunate enough to get away with a “media mismatch” (see above), but ask if you can beat those odds. A marketing machine can get someone to read a five-book series far easier than you may – even if people forget it afterward.
This doesn’t mean you should give up on an idea – you need to refine it for your chosen media. If you have a book that is an RPG-in-disguise, you can refine it into a more bookable form. If you want to make an RPG, but it comes from a story, maybe you can expand the worldbuilding. It’s OK to rework your idea so the audience can enjoy it in the form you want.
Making a piece of media accessible requires many things – the right wording, rules, art style, etc. However, we should ask as if we’re doing the right thing in the right form of media. There may be a mismatch here.
To give an example in my Avenoth series – which is worldbuilding heavy – “A Bridge to the Quiet Planet” was a romp across worlds, and had overly “worldbuildy” moments. I tightened up the focus in “A School of Many Futures” which made it more intimate, which made the setting more accessible. A tweak of perspective improved the story.
Consider the right media for what you want to tell and how to make what you want to say optimized for the media you’ve chosen. It’ll help you reach people, which we all want, especially in a crowded market.