The Power of Stories & Characters Over The Audience (Simmons Says #170)

Welcome to my newsletter!

How Much Power Do Our Stories

Have Over Our Audience?

Greetings, Reader,

This will be more editorial than my usual instructive or writing tips scenario. It's more of an observation about the relationships of stories and characters with their audience.

Again, as writers and creatives, that's what we do. We observe life and participate in it. But I have noticed that we're becoming quite visceral in terms of the human experience.

As the years have passed, we have become agitated, worked up, tense, angry, and furious about so much.

And I’m wondering if it's because, aside from whatever political, religious, personal, or social issues affect us in our everyday lives, we are constantly being bombarded by information or misinformation, news stories about various celebrities, dire global statistics, and more. It’s nonstop.

So, maybe we're a little overwhelmed.

But I'm concerned particularly because we are exploding in the arenas where we're supposed to be mellower, more relaxed, or even indifferent, and that is the world of entertainment.

I'm seeing fan bases and individuals become absolutely rabid with upset, anger, and hate about fictional characters and this funny little thing we call movies. We're talking about fabricated stories and material.

Now, there may be threads of the human experience woven into these fictitious tales, but we're talking about non-truly existing living, breathing characters. Not the authors. The characters.

Every generation has had its favorite whatever. We've had our favorite baseball players, politicians, actors, musicians, bands, and songs. We've even had our favorite time of year.

Things change. They do.

Case in point: I was a major Basil Rathbone fan. I grew up watching many of his old movies on television. He was Sherlock Holmes to me for a number of years. One day, Jeremy Britt on the BBC brought different quirks, habits, and ticks to the character, making Holmes fascinating in another way. And I enjoyed his work for several years.

Then suddenly, there was Benedict Cumberbatch, who not only brought his own mannerisms and interpretation to the character and portrayal, but the producers put him in present-day instead of the 1800s.

They adapted some of Conan Doyle's original stories, and I enjoyed them.

Who has played Batman?

Robert Lowery, Adam West, Michael Keaton, and Val Kilmer. Many people.

Henry Cavill has played Superman. So have Kirk Allyn, George Reeves, and Christopher Reeves.

The costumes and portrayals have been different, and the storylines have been different. They're fictional characters. We can become attached to them. We can live vicariously through some of their exploits and their accomplishments.

Maybe some of us are turned on by the sense of a being with that much power and ability to affect the world. Envy.

Okay. But breathe.

Years from now, other people will love, dislike, enjoy, or ignore the heroes we hold so close to our hearts. It's inevitable.


Here's a thought you might have yet to consider seriously.

If you don't like the characters and stories, create your own.

While working on that, take a break to let entertainment be what it was meant to be: entertaining. No matter the character, it's just a matter of interpretation.


Alex Simmons

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Simmons Says

Hi, Alex Simmons here. I've taught 100s of aspiring and struggling writers how to overcome their fears and frustrations and create compelling plots, characters, and stories that appeal to a broader audience. Over the years, I've been honored to be a professional author (award-winner), writing coach/teacher, and consultant. I’ve written for many mainstream publishers, Marvel/DC/Archie Comics, and penned plays, interactive games, and video and animation scripts. And I’ve been a global speaker on empowering people through the arts. I have much to share, starting with my Simmons Says Newsletter.

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