Subtle as Billboards


Research reported in today's GUARDIAN tells us that "Today's youngsters don't 'get' clever ads, are not in the least suspicious of commercials, don't know the difference between newspapers' political stances, or TV channels, and they don't mind admitting it ... As a result media companies and advertisers are going back to basics to arouse the iterest of 15- to 24- year-olds with instant impact messages, plain product pictures, bigger posters, annoying jingles, celebrity endorsements and repetitive ads."

So how does that research effect writers? I'm filletting my ongoing novel CROMOZONE for scifi stories just now. The scope of the novel means I've been expecting readers to carry threads of story with them, to be good 'distance readers', building up their own sense of the radically different world of the novel piece by piece. In turning it into a story or two I'm being far more upfront, inserting passages that state 'this is what's happening here'. I'm coming to see the novel won't lose out by such boldness either. I want some young readers and sense that what I term subtlety would actually come across as distracting. It does little harm to be as upfront and clear as often as possible.

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