I am on hiatus from my Vocational Vivications post this week again, readers. Until I return, please enjoy this excellent post from K. M. Weiland:
Sometimes I think everything I learned about life I learned from The Andy Griffith Show.
For instance, in the episode “Andy Discovers America,” when Andy is incredulous about the new school teacher “starting them awful young for history,” Aunt Bea just sighs, “Well, maybe they have to. There’s more of it these days.”
If that idea was true of history back in 1963, it’s even more true of literature in 2019.
One of the coolest things about this ultra-modern era is the insane number of stories literally at our fingertips. It’s staggering. Not only are we able to access the vast archives left to us by hundreds of ancestral generations, we are also living at an unprecedented moment of story output. Stories of all sorts—books, movies, TV, commercials, you name it—are created at a brain-numbing rate. Even those of us nerdy enough of to try could never sample them all.
This is incredible in so many ways. That I can decide I want to read Of Mice and Men, borrow it from Overdrive, and download it on my Kindle in all of three minutes (or less—I didn’t count) would no doubt astound John Steinbeck. Heck, these days we sometimes don’t even have to wait a week for a new episode of our favorite show. The latest season of Stranger Things? Pow. Watch the whole thing in one night.
And then what? What happens after I finish reading Of Mice and Men? After I finish bingeing Stranger Things? Well, I start looking for something else, of course. And something else and something else.
After a while, the stories we consume in our lifetimes rack up considerably. In 2002, I started tracking the number of books I read. At this point, I’ve recorded 1,777. Add to that the books I consumed before keeping a record. Then add what has to be at least twice as many movies. Plus TV (including many, many Andy Griffith reruns…).
Nearly everyone with access to either the Internet and/or a TV can probably say the same.
That’s a mountain of stories. An ocean of stories. A galaxy of stories.
But here’s the interesting thing. The more stories We the Audience consume, the more jaded we are likely to become in our consumption.
What’s this mean for We the Writers?
Basically this: today’s audience ain’t Granddad’s audience.
4 Challenges of Writing for a Modern Audience
Writers who are pointed to the exemplary writing of the classics often complain that the likes of Thomas Hardy and Edna Ferber couldn’t possibly get published these days. There’s some truth to that, in no small part because modern audiences are a far different crowd from those of a couple hundred years ago. (This is not to discount the continuing worth of the great classics. The evolution of the modern audience is firmly founded on all the literature that has come before.)
However, as modern authors writing for a modern audience, we must be aware of the unique challenges that face us, not only in connecting with the current audience, but also in recognizing the formative effects upon ourselves as members of that same contemporary audience.
You can start by taking note of these four crucial facts.