Monday, April 9, 2012

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now (#135) -- Time Periods & Pulps

What are the advantages and disadvantages of writing pulps and noir in their original time periods?

For starters, you decrease the risk of alienating your readers because you're beginning your story on familiar ground. That means that not only are your readers more comfortable, but they don't have the "wall" to get over of any updates to their expectations of the characters (moving heroes from a past in WWI to a past in Kuwait, or being the grandson of the original Shadow, for example). And readers love the familiar. That's why series sell so well for publishers. Selling a reader on "new" when "old and comfy" are right next door can be an uphill crawl that sometimes only a big name on the cover can manage successfully.

On the other hand, writers who are stuck (whether at their own behest or at the dictate of their publishers) to a certain time period can run the risk of just telling the same old plots over and over again. And that gets old fast -- even for pulp readers.

How do you overcome that? Right off the bat, I'd say research. Find something interesting like the Nazi search for biblical artifacts (Raiders of the Lost Ark) or the World's Fair (The Ruby Files) that will breathe new life into your same old setting.