I’m just thinking with my fingers on the keyboard tonight. I think I’m on to something and writing it out helps me. Maybe one of my commenters can add something to clarify it. I may be adding some of this to my living document soon.
Some story elements come across to me as being inclusive or exclusive for the reader. There have been good stories written both ways. I’m convinced this is not a popularity contest, but I’ll keep an open mind in the comments.
In my definition, the reader could participate as one of the characters in the story. There is a special world, but it’s within the reader’s reach.
The best example I can come up with is the Harry Potter world. Some magical folk are born to muggle parents. Since the idea isn’t delved into in depth, the reader can keep the hope alive.
These stories include Kung Fu ideas, sports stories, sword swingers and more. The idea is that if one trains hard enough, it is possible to join the cool kids.
The world element excludes the reader from playing along. It’s possible that stories about Royal families would feel exclusive to the reader. This doesn’t mean we don’t like reading along, but that world isn’t our world. Stories about oracles and seers might feel the same way, depending on the point of view. Some sports movies could also come across this way, depending upon how elite the event is.
I think maybe The DaVinci Code type stories could fit this category. The world is so unique, and small, I have a hard time joining the search. Doesn’t mean they aren’t fun reading. Like I said, I’m thinking as I write this.
One thing I’m convinced of: the author has to pick a lane and stay with it. Let me illustrate with the big failure of Star Wars. In 1977, I could have become a Jedi. All I had to do was harness the power of The Force. It remained that way for a couple of decades. You know you tried to move that gum wrapper using The Force, just admit it. I did.
In 1999 everything changed. The description of how metachlorians work excluded me from The Force. Now it’s just a consequence of birth. The franchise lost some charm for me. I’d already formed an opinion, and I was wrong +/-20 years later.
I think it’s important to establish this element early, and to stick with it. It’s like the lesson to establish a character description early, or not at all. Dumping it in chapter 12 will conflict with visuals the reader already has.
I had a mild idea of this when writing The Cock of the South. I wanted readers to imagine the story going on. I wanted the reader to believe they could join the Black Hats, or the Amazons. I even made sure humans were welcome in this society. I’m not saying this is a better way to go. I am saying I challenge myself with each story, and this was one of my challenges.
This has nothing to do with sequels. I’m not in love with them, but would consider it if sales justified it.
A story about Major League Baseball probably excludes most people. (And all women.) A story about a child who works hard and makes it to the majors, probably includes most readers. (This could be a female breakthrough story.)
Thinking about Wild Concept, it’s exclusive. None of us will ever be an experimental robot. What if I’d written it from a different point of view? What if I’d added a sidekick/biographer as the point of view character. Readers might imagine having a robotic friend. Maybe??
I’m looking for an element of clarity here. Writing it out helped some. Let me hear it in the comments. Am I close to a breakthrough, or just confusing myself? Is one style better than another?