News Ticker

Jane Espenson’s Secret to Selling Sci-Fi

Over at The New Republic, Jane Espenson (writer for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Co-Executive Producer on Battlestar Galactica) talks about the how to broaden the appeal of science fiction and fantasy beyond the niche:

It’s a very specific type of Hero’s Journey, the most potent sub-case. It’s told over and over again, and it works, over and over again. Dorothy Gale, Buffy Summers, Harry Potter, Charlie Bucket, Luke Skywalker, even Peter Parker, they all fit a very specific pattern. They’re living a life, sometimes a fine one, often a troubled one, but certainly one governed by ordinary rules, when suddenly the curtain is pulled back and a whole new world, or a new set of rules of this world, is revealed. And what’s more – and this is the important part – in that new world, they are something special. They are The Chosen One.

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

2 Comments on Jane Espenson’s Secret to Selling Sci-Fi

  1. ie. sellout

  2. I disagree.

    How do you sell a scifi or fantasy story to a mainstream audience?

    You don’t. You sell a mainstream story to a mainstream audience. The SETTING just happens to be outer space.

    The focus has to be on the characters and the story, NOT on the setting. If you tell a story that people can get behind (whether it is the tired “chosen one” cliche or some OTHER tired cliche), and you create characters that people can identify with and care about REGARDLESS of what the setting is, then you’ve got something. This is what works for Battlestar Galactica. BG isn’t a scifi show. It’s a soap opera in space. Smallville isn’t a superhero show. Its a soap opera with super-strength and X-Ray vision. Supernatural? Soap opera with demons. Heroes and The 4400? They aren’t superhero shows. They are DRAMAS about people with abilities.

    That’s how you sell it. Create the mainstream story and characters first. Then put it in a genre setting.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: