Like many of my stories, this one begins with a pop culture joke.
My husband and I climbed into an Uber after seeing the New York City Ballet at the Kennedy Center. We joked with the driver that we were afraid he wouldn't find us because the GPS had us located in the water. I said, "Yeah, the only person you are going to find there is Aquaman."
"Yeah, but you might also find Namor."
Then the floodgates opened. You see, my husband grew up on comic books (my father-in-law knows more about comics than anyone I know...I bet he knows more than Stan Lee), so they immediately launched into a discussion of comic books and the movies.
We discussed how terrible Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was and how wonderful Wonder Woman was. The cab driver said, "People think that Wonder Woman is doing so well because it is about a woman. Sure, that might be a factor, but it is primarily because it is actually a good movie. The director clearly had fun and cared about her viewers."
We expressed our hearty agreement in the back. The cab driver sighed and looked out the window before he continued. "I felt so betrayed by Batman v Superman. Why did he make it so dark and nothing like the original? I watch these films to escape. I have teenage boys and work so hard at my job to make ends meet. I partially work so hard so I can afford to go to these movies. When the director clearly doesn't care about his viewers, I feel betrayed. All I want is to get away a bit."
He went on to say he lost a newborn child some years ago, and he knew enough about sorrow. He didn't need a comic book movie to remind him about it. He wanted to forget. "I am a nerd. They all know we will go there with our pocket protectors and food that won't stick in our retainers no matter what. They have a captive audience. When they just throw something together because they can or purposefully spit in our faces by making Batman violent, they are saying they don't care about us. They just want our money."
What is the writing lesson in this? Care about your readers. Actually think about what they need and give it to them. Actually respect them, their intelligence, and their money. Don't just try to make a quick buck by throwing together a book that you think matches the trends.
If you think about how your writing will benefit your readers every time you write or revise, I guarantee you can't go wrong.
Have you ever felt betrayed by a book or film? Let me know in the comments below!