Monday, March 5, 2012

Breaking the Mold

Writing novels that break a mold is an interesting experience.

Most of the "reading public" expects certain things. They expect any intelligent being to think and act like humans (although interesting side-trips are allowable), they expect that the aristocracy will be in charge, they expect...

The media is based on this. When a book or movie comes along that breaks the mold, if the audience is not ready for it there is small chance that it will succeed.

Those who choose which books to publish, and which movies to produce, know this. Even if they don't consciously recognize the reasons behind it, they know that a certain book or movie, a certain idea, will be difficult to sell to the public. Since it's the public that pays the bills, they abide by it.

If things break the mold, if your aliens have different ways of thinking for example, then a great deal more explanation is necessary in order to fit that "different" into a human mold in such a way that the humans who read the book will actually understand.

Humans imagine that their way of thinking is logical, and any alteration from that "norm" is by definition illogical. That's not exactly the case, but a three page explanation of an alien's way of thinking isn't practicable either.

Trying to show those things can be even more difficult, because the humans who read automatically try to fit everything into a mold they understand.

Breaking the reader's "mold" is counterproductive. Trying to fit into the reader's mold can be even worse.


  1. Hmm. interesting dilemma. I'm not sure what's to be one about it. I think the main thing is that readers want to be able to connect with or understand the characters on an emotional level. If they understand the culture and the reasons behind the way the aliens act, they might be able to accept it better.

  2. The human mind is endlessly adaptable. Once people figure out hey-this-is-different they often don't have a problem with it as long as it's consistent.

    I need to figure out how to do that consistently.