Trailer Time: And why should I care?

The premise is simple: magic users vs. religious leaders.  “War is coming.”

This trailer is a minute and thirteen seconds long.  All I can think after watching it is, “I’m hungry.  Popcorn sounds good.”

Perhaps that sounds harsh.  Maybe it is.  Maybe I’ll rethink this opening and replace it with something kinder.

But maybe I won’t.  Maybe I’m feeling just a bit too snarky for that.

If I wanted empty, tired fare, then I’d watch television sitcoms.  The only time I do that is when I walk by the television when my boys are watching one of their teen soaps and get sucked in by something totally ridiculous, something totally incredulous, and just watch to see how totally absurd it can get.  I’m rarely disappointed, but it’s not like it’s satisfying either.  (Of course, I’ll also admit that I’ve re-watched two of the teen soaps from my own generation and enjoyed them, but they seemed somehow meatier, though just as unrealistic.)

I read because I want my appetite for story satisfied.  I want to come away full.

All I know from watching this trailer is that magic users are up against religious leaders and they’re vying for the same finite powers.  Sound like a B fantasy movie to you?  It certainly does to me.  You know, the kind you really watch because of the hot guy/girl and the likelihood of a sugar rush.  Not a cult classic.  Those have “hidden” substance.  I’m talking about the kind of movie you can’t remember the name of five minutes into it, even when the name of the movie is the name of the main character.

What was that guy’s name?  Oh, yeah, I forgot…  It doesn’t matter, because he’s just a cardboard cutout.

Granted, there’s a place for fluff.  Fluff sells.  It doesn’t draw sales, but it sells.

Still, try as I might, I can’t find anything good to say about it.

And the thing of it is, I don’t actually know the book is fluff.  I just think it is.  Because all the trailer gave me was fluff.

So, here’s the lesson:  There’s nothing particularly wrong with a weak, generic premise (like magic users vs. religious leaders), but you really should bring something fresh and splendid to it (great characters, a fresh spin, awesome plotting—you know, the good stuff).  However, you should NOT lead with a weak, generic premise.  And, whatever you do, don’t let your weak, generic premise be your actual pitch, i.e. the only subject matter of your trailer.  ‘Cause, like I said, fluff sells, but it’s not like people actually go out of their way to buy it.

About Stephanie Allen Crist

Stephanie created and produces in answer to a call from God to use her experiences and gifts to help others. Stephanie is also the author of and two books that can be found on that site. Stephanie strives to share her love, faith, and talents in an inclusive manner to help others who know spiritual pain and who know the bitter taste of the dregs of despair.
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5 Responses to Trailer Time: And why should I care?

  1. acflory says:

    I’ll be honest, I found this trailer rather interesting because the concept of sorcerors vs clerics set off a set of possibilities in my head, possibilities that suggested there might be some interesting political intrigue as part of the fare. The only thing I found very annoying was the voice of the narrator. I must be going deaf because I found it hard to actually hear what she was saying. Did she mention an actual person in there? I assume she did and I assume he is a sorceror and hence one of the good guys. Anyway, that’s just me, but I loved the lushness of the actual graphics!

    • The name of the primary sorceror is mentioned, but as I implied I’d forgotten it before I finished the trailer. The sorceror is not characterized beyond his role in fulfilling the plot,which is part of the reason why the name/character is not memorable.

      The premise, sorcerors vs. clerics, is full of possibilities, but it’s also been done to the point of being cliche (versus “classic”). In order to differentiate, the author needs to distinguish this story from all the others–and that didn’t happen. Again, though the premise filled you with all sorts of ideas, it didn’t fill you with this idea, this story, and that’s a problem. The trailer should market the story, not the premise.

      As a writer, you’re as likely to want to write your own version of this premise as to read this one.

      • acflory says:

        Hmmm… good points. I do read fantasy but not as much as sci-fi so I wasn’t aware that this concept had already been done to death. 😦

      • Any concept can be re-done, and done with a new, engaging twist, so it’s not so much the point that it has been done to death, but that the trailer didn’t bring much of anything new to it.

        As for the cliche nature of the concept, it’s not limited to fantasy, but has been assumed in historical novels, science fiction novels, mystery, steam punk, and a whole bunch of others. The reason, of course, is because the conflict is “natural” and is a part of our history, at least Western history.

        Of course, who the “good guy” is will often depend on the genre: fantasy novels will make the magic users the good guys, historical novels will often make the religious leaders or the falsely accused the good guys, and SF will take a new twist where the science is the “magic” or will be a third-party person who thinks both sides are nuts.

        The point is, to get beyond the cliches, you have to bring something new and compelling to the mix, and you have to share that with potential readers (in your marketing) to draw them in.

      • acflory says:

        Definitely food for thought!

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