How to be a Good Periphery Fan

According to TV Tropes, a periphery demographic is:

a notable bunch of audience members outside of the intended (i.e., marketed) demographic.

An excellent example of a periphery demographic are the bronies of My Little Pony fame*, nearly all of whom are adult men, which is pretty much the exact opposite of MLP’s intended audience (young girls under the age of 12).

There’s nothing wrong with liking something that isn’t marketed toward you. I myself am a fan of several things not targeted at my age group, like the Pokémon video game franchise, for example. It’s nothing to be ashamed of as long as you remember that there is a good way and bad way of being a periphery fan (as I like to call them):

Good: Enjoying the franchise for what it is, not taking yourself or the franchise/product so seriously, and acknowledging that the franchise will and probably should always remain targeted toward its intended audience (even if the periphery fans get little nods every now and then)

Bad: Taking the franchise too seriously, snubbing the fans who are members of the intended audience for not enjoying it in the same way as you, and hating on the company/people who put it out whenever they dare to market it in a way that appeals to its intended demographic.

In my experience, the number one problem periphery fans have is that they often take themselves too seriously. They forget that the franchise they are so interested was not aimed toward them, that their interest in it was (usually) unintended, and that the company or people putting it out are in no way obligated to please you, even if you have invested more time and money into the franchise than most of its target audience.

This often leads to very respectable, very mature, fully-grown adults throwing huge temper tantrums on Internet forums when the company makes a decision they don’t like. While periphery fans do not need to like everything about their favorite franchise or the company or people who put it out, they need to keep things in perspective. Often what they’re angry about is rather trivial and usually quite silly from an outsider’s perspective (or even from a fan’s perspective). They just end up making themselves — and their fellow periphery fans — look like idiots, which is generally not a good thing to look like.

As long as you have a good sense of humor and remain mature and humble, you should be able to avoid the fan dumb that is often a sign of being a bad periphery fan.

What do you think about periphery demographics? Are you a member of a periphery demographic? Do you agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

*Although it may not actually be the best example. If TV Tropes’s Periphery Demographic page is to be believed, then bronies actually outnumber the intended audience of the franchise immensely. I am unable to confirm that; but even if it’s true, that doesn’t change the fact that My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is still a girl’s show, which still puts bronies on the periphery (unless Hasbro starts to market it primarily toward bronies, although that’s unlikely to happen, in my opinion).

-Tim

Toonami Equality Speech

I used to watch Toonami all the time as a kid (pretty certain that’s how I got into anime, actually), so I think this video is pretty awesome. Definitely worth watching.

It gets extra awesome points for featuring clips from One Piece and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, two of my favorite animes of all time.

-Tim

Snow

When I woke up this morning, I was greeted to a thin layer of snow on the ground around my house. Snow is extremely rare here in Texas; in fact, this is the first snow of the winter, so I’d say it’s pretty special in that regard.

It’s not a whole lot of snow, though. It’s not like the amount of snow they get in the northern states, where so much of the white stuff falls I hear they have to close down schools and businesses sometimes. It’s not enough snow to build a snowman, although you could probably have a snowball fight if you wanted (though don’t expect to make anything larger than your fist, if even that).

Still, it is snow. White, wet, and cold. I hope to enjoy it as much as I can today because I am not sure if we’re going to be getting more anytime soon. On the other hand, it’s so cold outside right now that I am probably going to stay inside and do some reading or play some video games (been playing Pokémon X recently, which is a fantastic game. Highly recommend it to anyone who likes Pokémon, even if it’s been years since you last played a game from the series).

-Tim

Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 Hour Rule” Doesn’t Add Up

I’ve often wondered how you keep track of those 10,000 hours anyway.

All About Work

As regular readers of this blog know, it bugs me when writers get things wrong or can’t be bothered to justify their facts. Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of references to the “10,000 hour rule” – the idea that you need to spend 10,000 hours on an activity to be successful at it.  I knew that this idea was popularized by writer Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, but I didn’t know where he got the idea from or what it was based on.

So imagine my surprise when I Googled “10,000 hour rule” and found this very recent letter by K. Anders Ericsson, the lead author of the study that Gladwell cites as “Exhibit A”  in support of the “rule”. Not only does Ericsson say that Gladwell “invented” the 10,000 hour rule, but he also describes Gladwell  as making a “provocative generalization to a magical number”.

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Writing the second draft

I’ve recently begun writing the second draft of my NaNoWriMo novel, The Mad Voyage of Prince Malock (title subject to change). It’s been an exhilarating experience, yet I can already think of several things I would like to change when I get around to writing the third draft. In particular, one of the protagonists doesn’t seem nearly as alive as the other one, although he apparently has a secret that he’s trying to keep from everyone else, so we’ll see how this goes.

For me, the second draft for longer works is always a bit hazy. With the first draft, I can pretty much do whatever I want, even (perhaps especially) if it makes no sense. The first draft let’s me play around the characters, the plot, the setting, and anything and everything else. Admittedly, the first draft can be hard because I don’t know my characters or plot as well as I’d like, but that’s why I give myself the freedom to do whatever the hell I want. I never show my first drafts to anyone anyway, so it’s never a problem if they suck.

With the third draft, I usually have a concrete idea of the characters, plot, and setting. Things can still change, of course, but while writing the third draft I rarely feel the need to strike out in a completely new direction, though I may make several minor changes along the way. The third draft is what I consider the “complete” draft, which basically means I stop rewriting the story and move onto the editing phase.

The second draft is very different from the first and third drafts. On one hand, I know the story a little bit better now than when I wrote the first draft. On the other hand, I give myself more freedom to experiment and try out new things than I would if it was the third draft. Sometimes the second draft looks absolutely nothing like the first draft or third draft, yet in my experience the second draft is every bit as important to my writing process as the first and third drafts are.

Let me use a metaphor to explain it a bit better:

Imagine the first draft is a young child. Children have not been in the world nearly long to have a concrete identity (though there are probably a few details that children are born with right away). They have their entire future ahead of them. They could be anything when they grow up. As a result, they have to make a lot of mistakes before they can find out who they really are.

The third draft is an adult. Although there are still things that can change, for the most part, adults have a better grasp of their own identity than they did as a child. They’re not perfect and can still grow in many ways, but it is unlikely they will undergo any major changes in their lives or personalities from this point forward.

But I skipped an important step in the writing process here: The second draft as a teenager.

Teenagers usually have a much more solid sense of identity than children do; however, they’re still a lot more awkward and confused than adults. They are at a crossroads in their lives. Many important decisions are made during this time, decisions that shape a teenager’s identity and future for good or for ill. The second draft is much the same, although it usually has fewer pimples and angst.

Thankfully, the second draft, like adolescence, doesn’t last forever. It is a necessary step in the writing process, one I can’t just skip, at least not without producing a shoddier story than if I’d written it instead.

And just like adolescence, the second draft can be pretty fun sometimes.

-Tim

A new approach

My dream is to become a professional, full-time writer who makes a living off his work. That dream is not yet a reality for me and may not be for a while; nonetheless, it is a realistic dream, one that, with a lot of hard work, patience, and maybe a little bit of luck, I will be able to achieve.

In order to achieve this dream, I realize I need to expand my scope beyond this blog and my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I’ll still use this blog, to be sure, but I understand better now that this blog should not be my main platform. If I want to sell books someday and make some actual money, I will need to build an audience using more than just my blog.

I say all of this to announce, in a somewhat meandering manner, that I am going to be blogging a little less often from now on. I am currently researching different ways of building a platform, which means I am devoting less time to blogging. I’ll still be blogging here, don’t worry, but don’t expect as much new content. I’ll probably blog a few times a week from now on, instead of aiming for every day as I have been trying (and failing) to do for a while now.

-Tim

The most important piece of writing advice that I know

There are thousands of books on writing out there, perhaps millions of articles and blog posts, and countless forums and writing groups where you can discuss the art and craft of writing with your fellow writers. There are workshops and conferences, apprenticeships and mentorships for writers who want to improve or those who want to help others improve, and creative writing classes in schools all over the world.

Sometimes, it’s all too much. It seems like every writer has a completely different approach to writing from the next. “Outline.” “Don’t outline.” “Follow your characters.” “Make them do what is necessary to advance the plot.” “Do a ton of research, even if you don’t use half of it.” “Do only the bare minimum of research necessary to make your story believable.” “Anyone who writes quickly is a hack.” “Anyone who takes their time never gets anything done.” “Share you book with 50 other people before you send it to the editor.” “Share it with maybe one other person and then send it to your editor.”

How is a writer — especially a new writer who doesn’t know much about the craft or business of writing — supposed to know what works and what doesn’t? Every writer who has ever felt the need to grace the unwashed masses with their opinions (like me, for example) sounds so certain that it can be hard to disagree, especially when they demonize or vilify anyone who disagrees.

In my experience, I’ve found that the most important piece of writing advice I have ever come across is this: “Do whatever works for you.”

Each writer is different. What works for me might not work for you, and vica versa. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no such thing as good or bad writing. It just means you need to realize that the path to writing something good is different for every writer. Certain paths are more widely traveled and perhaps more reliable than others, but ultimately there is no such thing as the definitive path that every writer MUST follow if they want to write anything worth reading.

Does outlining work for you?

Then do it.

Does organic writing work for you?

Then do that.

Does some sort of combination of outlining and organic writing work for you?

Then do it, even if no one else is doing it.

All writing advice you receive — whether it comes from a friend, a book, a member of your writing group, a magazine article or blog post, or from something else — must be judged by that criteria. If it does not work for you — even if it works for everyone else you know — then you don’t need to do it, no matter what anyone else says.

What is the most important piece of writing advice that you know?

-Tim