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An Attractive Fantasy

Banes at 12:00AM, July 6, 2017

There are several ways to make a series interesting. I've been working on a new one for the past few months and endeavoring to make it something people will be compelled to read (or watch, if it ends up being animated).

To hook people in, you know? How does one do it?

One way is to make it “An Attractive Fantasy”. This means that the reality within the story is more appealing than real life in some way. The characters in the story might have the same kind of problems we do…

…but maybe

- They're better looking and better dressed than we are
- They have big houses or apartments
- They have more exciting or more successful careers than we do
- etc

Would we watch or read stories that are exactly like our own lives?

Not sure, but I suspect most of us wouldn't.

We like to relate and empathize with characters, but we also want something MORE than reality.

The characters in saucy dramas might have the same interpersonal issues as we do, but they might have a rich lifestyle that we can vicariously enjoy. Or be fitness model-perfect looking.

Or perhaps they have close-knit friendships that we don't see in our own lives. The kids in Entourage, Friends, or Sex and the City have these tenured friendships at the core of them that don't exist for a lot of adults.

Of course, super heroes, medical dramas, cop shows, and military shows or video games present an attractive fantasy in terms of how IMPORTANT these characters jobs or missions are. We can enjoy the fantasy on that level.

The other side of this is the “NEGATIVELY ATTRACTIVE FANTASY”. which is the opposite but the same. We would not want the lives these characters have, because that life is very hard, or painful, or the stakes and stress levels are impossibly high.

With great power comes great responsibility, after all!

Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, the X-Files, the Sopranos and Supernatural would fit in here.

These series, and the aforementioned cop/medical/military series, might have both Attractive Fantasy and Negative Fantasy elements.

I think my comic, Typical Strange, uses this in terms of the rock solid (though somewhat mocking) friendships, somewhat attractive (if dorky) people, and the exciting/dangerous turns the characters' mundane lives can take.

ideas taken from Alex Epstein's book, Crafty TV Writing



Banes at 6:07AM, July 7, 2017

@bravo - good points! I daresay you're right!

KimLuster at 5:05PM, July 6, 2017

Bravo is right too, of course!! Walter White (Breaking Bad) morphed into something truly extraordinary!!

bravo1102 at 3:56PM, July 6, 2017

Everyone is extraordinary in one way. It's the ordinary as extraordinary. All of that in one day? The holy shit of realizing what you've been through and endured? And the extraordinary person in his life was not just Randall. As Silent Bob said not every girl will bring you lasagna for lunch. That was a special friend. ;) but Randall was there for everything and was there was Dante needed him. Loyal sidekick. And like most sidekick, a constant source if trouble for the hero.

Banes at 9:45AM, July 6, 2017

@KimLuster - I tend to agree with that, too, and I remember you talking about this awhile back. I have found a tendency to create heroes who are too average. Influenced by other works, probably, but it's an impulse I've tried to break out of when creating new characters. This struggle only exists on paper on my clipboard so far, but it's a dramatic struggle indeed!

Banes at 9:44AM, July 6, 2017

@bravo - haha! Yeah, even Dante presents an "attractive fantasy" in a way. Not sure if it's the positive or negative type. Who wouldn't want a best friend as funny as Randal...or is Randal a force of destruction we wouldn't wish on anybody?

KimLuster at 6:21AM, July 6, 2017

Good article! Several years back, Anne Rice talked about a tendency with some writers to make the protagonists very average, normal... She didn't like that at all! She said readers, while they do want a character they can identify with, imagine being, they still want that character to be larger than life(more powerful, more beautiful, richer...). It's in our nature, and we see it manifest in our religions and mythologies!! I tend to agree, although not quite to the extreme she goes (or at least I think so...)

bravo1102 at 1:28AM, July 6, 2017

Or how about the clerk at the Kwik Stop? He wasn't even supposed to work that one day!

bravo1102 at 1:25AM, July 6, 2017

Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. The protagonist could be that iron jawed dork at the S-Mart but damn if he doesn't have a most extraordinary experience in that cabin in the woods. Really too bad about the hand too...

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