The topic here overlaps and synthesizes two threads I've been developing in the search for means to change the image of SF/Paranormal/Futuristic Romance
Heather did a fabulous summary post of where we are now and how to get where we're going with Romance at
And I do agree that the prevailing market wisdom indicates we need a new label or BRAND logo for SFR. I think it will be derived from the seminal work that changes the landscape, what she calls the ground zero. (Rock-n-Roll; Punk Rock; Steam Punk, Urban Fantasy, New Wave, etc) That seminal work must have a visual element with an evocative label.
But in whom must it evoke what? Let's step back and take a longer perspective look at our market.
This look is founded in two of my previous posts here (plus all the others -- this is the phase of INSIDE THE WRITER'S MIND where bits and pieces get synthesized.)
Look again at:
1) Astrology Just For Writers Part 5
2) Targeting a Readership Part One
Now let's explore the use of Astrology over long, sweeping generations to look at what becomes popular among a given age group and why. Remember this post:
To synthesize all this into something a writer can use, we have to consider the Essence of Amusement, which is actually a separate topic -- what clicks your pleasure button and why. This is very mystical stuff with a practical application.
Rowena Cherry tickled the edges of "Essence of Amusement" in her musings about what a heroic-devil could and could not do in a novel and retain reader sympathy.
There are several discussions going on in the Amazon Communities boards for Romance about which hugely popular authors you just mysteriously don't like, and another about which authors you've stopped reading lately -- very illuminating.
Those Amazon Community Boards readers (you have to have an amazon account I think to get there, but here's the link)
are not reviewing so much as recommending books to each other. For example, there's a thread about "If I loved TWILIGHT, what should I read next?"
Lots of action in the Romance communities there, but I think there's more in the Romance community at Goodreads.com where there are a lot of authors involved.
The Amazon discussions are mostly by readers for readers, which being a reader, I find fascinating and useful.
But they're discussing their personal reaction to this or that novel series (and series are actually as hot right now as publishers seem to think. Readers don't want "the end" -- they want "ongoing adventures of," which makes the HEA ending concept worth re-thinking.)
If they like some characters or a fictional world, readers want more and more of the same, but they drop the series once it becomes more and more of the same. Just like TV viewers!
Being readers they don't know or care WHY they like or dislike, or gobble or drop, a story or even a writer's entire output. They just want their money's worth of amusement. That seems fair to me. And wise.
Harking back to Rowena's post on dialog snippets:
"Give me a good read!"
"What do you want?"
"How should I know? You're the writer. That's your job."
OK, roll up your sleeves and let's get to the dirty work.
The Essence of Amusement
Why are we amused?
What is amusement?
Why does a writer have to know?
Caution here -- some writers shouldn't know consciously what amuses their readers.
Other writers can't produce good amusement without knowing consciously.
Yet others need a little of this and a little of that to get it right.
Neurolinguistic programming is a scientific discipline trying to find the interface between brain cells and responses. Scientists long ago found a "pleasure center" which can be directly stimulated, even with addictive consequences.
Reading (fiction or non-fiction) either stimulates that pleasure center in some peripheral, possibly intellectual way -- or it turns off some pain center responses. It may do both on occasion to produce the books we "love."
That effect on engaging the imagination to stimulate or overcome some brain circuit signal would likely have remained the same since caveman days. Or maybe before that. 4.4 million years ago, at least, twice as long ago as previously assumed. I need to find out how long ago Pluto was "captured" by our sun, if that's in fact what Pluto is - a Capture.
THIS FROM THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ON HUMAN FOSSIL DISCOVERY - Oct 1, 2009
The fossil puts to rest the notion, popular since Darwin's time, that a chimpanzee-like missing link—resembling something between humans and today's apes—would eventually be found at the root of the human family tree. Indeed, the new evidence suggests that the study of chimpanzee anatomy and behavior—long used to infer the nature of the earliest human ancestors—is largely irrelevant to understanding our beginnings.
The Ardipithecus ramidus fossils were discovered in Ethiopia's harsh Afar desert at a site called Aramis in the Middle Awash region, just 46 miles (74 kilometers) from where Lucy's species, Australopithecus afarensis, was found in 1974. Radiometric dating of two layers of volcanic ash that tightly sandwiched the fossil deposits revealed that Ardi lived 4.4 million years ago.
We are now learning how species shift and evolve abruptly and why -- two reasons: supervolcanos and magnetic polar reversals.
There's a lot of research on evolution of humans that traces a huge genetic shift to the eruption of a supervolcano 70,000 years ago from now. It's a genetic process called a genetic bottleneck, and I did a really short blog post on that at
This stuff about evolution and our ability to be amused is seriously primal, as Blake Snyder says (Save The Cat!)all screenplays that "open everywhere" just have to be PRIMAL.
PRIMAL is the key, and nothing is more PRIMAL than sex or violence (or both). Rowena Cherry just dropped a note on her own post
Recently (as I mentioned on Heather's blog) a study was published that suggested more than 50% of romance readers want more sex in the novels they read.
Also, from my own observations and email exchanges with my Dorchester editor, marketability standards are changing. Some of the traditional "No-nos" are now acceptable.
If it's PRIMAL it sells -- provided it doesn't totally shatter a taboo. If you don't know about taboos and human culture, study some anthropology.
"Politically Incorrect" is another term for taboo.
In the film world, the term "edgy" means getting up close to the edge of a taboo but just not quite crossing that edge, so the almost-pain of anticipation is titillating, exciting, subconsciously disturbing, but not "run for the exits" pain. Laughter is the response to almost-pain. And laughter is a pleasure in itself. It's the ultimate goal of "amusement." Who doesn't LAUGH at unexpectedly terrific sex?
Done right, an "edgy" film about some social issue or political commentary can titilate the same nerve that gets a tweak from sexuality. "Playing" an audience with symbolism is just like "playing" a sexual partner to a maximized experience.
Well written fiction is configured just like good sex, which is why the ending of a story is called a CLIMAX.
Since films have to have the largest audiences because they are the most expensive to produce and distribute, "primal" has to be the watchword -- so essential an amusement even a caveman could understand.
And with the increasing emphasis on for-profit fiction, writers face a situation where the "edges" of "edgy" are shifting.
What is publicly acceptable has changed for whatever reason: possibly the audience is jaded; possibly a generation drilled in political correctness and sexual openness of the 1960's; possibly other factors such as Astrology may be involved; possibly all of the above.
So as Rowena correctly points out, editors are very aware (via twitter, facebook, myspace, goodreads.com amazon communities boards etc) that half the readers find the amount of raw sexuality in novels does not satisfy their need for amusement. They want more. But half the readers want the same or less!
If you look at the current political polls on approval for some government initiatives, we're right back where we were before 2008; the USA is about equally divided pro and con any issue, with about 15% in the middle apt to lean either way.
That political divide oddly mirrors the "acceptability" for sex in novels. I don't know if it correlates at all -- if the same people who want this political policy want more sex and the people who are against this political policy want less sex, while 15% in the middle are basically satisfied. I doubt anyone has done a study on that question. (who knows what may turn up on the web tomorrow!)
People with a taste for cerebral fiction (like SF or Mystery) don't necessarily also have a distaste for sexuality in fiction.
Cerebral thrills are only going to be sought out by the top 10 percentile rank of human beings, maybe 15 percentile ranks. Movies have to get 100 times cheaper to make in order to turn a profit off the top 15% of humans. The current tech innovations are bringing that target within range but it's not there yet.
Meanwhile, you'll always make more money off a bigger audience, so a writer should ponder how to frame their artistic output to reach the largest possible number of people with whatever the writer has to give.
Remember my post here on Winning a big film prize by choosing the age of your protagonist which I cited above?
Choosing protag's age to win an Oscar
Audiences are grabbed by a protag they can understand and identify with.
Young people don't understand or identify with old people, and don't want to but old people were once young and understand, identify with, and yearn to BE young people. Old people have their own unique life-issues (remember the film COCOON? And it's precious sequel?) but the life issues of the young are not alien or irrelevant to the older consumer.
At the same time, YOUNG consumers can be swayed by advertising and peer pressure. Older people can not (waste of advertising dollars to target over 40 consumers.)
And that could be a problem we're having with SFR and author-advertising. SFR really targets OLDER people -- a ship's captain, for example, should be over 30 to be plausible, over 40 to be believable however sexy. The age of the protag determines the age of the core readership. You waste your money advertising to the over-40 crowd, but that's the target audience for most SFR. Now what do you do?
Alas, older people are not as easily swayed by peer pressure, either. The older reader doesn't read books because "everybody" is reading them - they read what they like. (odd factoid derived from reading Amazon Community).
In a post inside LINKEDIN I saw a publishing professional explaining to a beginning writer pondering self-publishing that publishing is not a "meritocracy" -- and books that deserve to be published don't necessarily get chosen to be published by the big houses.
That's a very good way to think about it because many working writers today were children reading voraciously when publishing WAS INDEED A MERITOCRACY!!! That's the model we've internalized - if my book OUGHT to be published, it will be. What a shock when it's not.
We've all read older books that became true lifetime favorites, cherished and re-read. Those books were published back when publishing was a meritocracy -- and publishing houses were the tax write-off wing of a larger enterprise. (really, that was the business model; publishing was supposed to lose money and if it didn't, the publishing house would get sold at a loss.)
Owning a publishing house was fashionable and an entre into the literati and higher social circles than mere CEO's could aspire to.
Yeah, snob appeal.
Editors were hired not for their commercial sense but for choosing books that "ought" to be published.
That was a different world. Today publishing has become a "for profit" business, cut-throat and thrashing in what seem to be death-throes (at least in paper publishing).
E-publishing and self-publishing have lowered the standards of the finished e-product so that you don't get that prestige factor just for "being an author."
"Authors" used to be in the top 1st percentile rank of the top 15 percentile ranks of all human beings.
Really, that's true. Way back in the early days of the Web, I took a "poll" thing about where I stand in the prestige ranks. As a writer, I hit the top. Professors weren't top. CEO's were top, writers just under.
Today it's different. With self-publishing, authors are maybe somewhere in the top 15 percentile ranks. Since that basically includes most all readers, readers don't flock to "authors" as they once did. Everyone knows a published author. It's not special or inaccessible. (working producers are still inaccessible but that's changing too)
Meeting an author is not the opportunity of a lifetime today.
The world has changed so we have a big opportunity to establish something new that could shape the world of the future.
But to achieve that, we have to get a grip on what is really going on as opposed to what all the financial decision makers assume is going on. That's the real work of a writer, a futurologist, an amusement vendor, knowing what nobody else suspects and using it to advantage.
There's a puzzle of the marketplace that has never been solved, and I can't say I have "the" solution. But by using a futurologist's thinking tools and worldbuilder's imagination, we might stumble upon a real clue specifically useful to Romance sub-genre writers, with this problem about spending personal advertising dollars to sway over-40 year old readerships.
The puzzle that bewilders editors and producers is simple.
"Why is this a hit, while that better thing isn't?"
Maybe it's not all entirely marketing?
The people who get rich are the ones who notice the first of the trend-setting leaders and flood in behind with imitations before the general public has heard of the trend.
Those trend-setting leaders are usually "accidents" -- mistakes editors made trying to pick a big winner, or little indie films that make it big at a festival.
Sometimes the trend setting author is a visionary, but sometimes the author is as bewildered by commercial success as the editor (Rowling comes to mind).
So successful editors and producers watch the fringes for something that has tweaked the pleasure-centers, clicked the Amusement Button and produced Amusement in a DEMOGRAPHIC SWATCH of the population -- a demographic with disposable income and the immaturity to be swayed by advertising.
In 2008, I did a series of columns (the first 6 columns of 2008) on Blake Snyder's approach to film structure using primal issues structured in a primal way.
And I followed that with a series of columns on the astrological effect of PLUTO being dramatic and "larger than life."
Pluto: Melodrama Unleashed is the series title of those columns.
Under Pluto, I discussed Noel Tyl's Signature of Fame, an astrological meta-pattern you can find in natal charts of the absurdly rich and famous.
That Signature of Fame pattern pivots on Pluto in the natal chart and requires a fairly experienced astrologer to sift out of the background noise. But Tyl's Signature hypothesis explains graphically why it is so many who are rocketed to stardom crash and burn on drugs, sexual dissipation, bad judgment, trusting the wrong people, or dying of some dramatic disease.
Pluto is a magnifier of drama (among many other things). Pluto is just power, raw power, sexual power, financial power, political power, power over OTHERS (as in the power to sell snow to the Eskimos).
Pluto is not the drama itself. Pluto mixes in to an ordinary life event and magnifies it, blows it up, exaggerates, makes melodrama. You don't just drive your car into a ditch, you rocket off the Golden Gate Bridge leaving shattered traffic barriers behind.
Some handy current examples of Pluto in action.
When the economy crashed and burned at the end of 2008, it was after a long, slow shuddering buildup showing symptom after symptom that the "experts" ignored, which is typical of Pluto.
"I knew that would happen! Why didn't I pay attention?" And the answer is that Pluto represents what is underground, hidden, what is infrastructure. Plumbing, bridges, highways, electrical grid. You never notice it until it collapses.
So finally (it wasn't the beginning; it was FINALLY) Lehman Brothers melted down.
That coincided with the contact of Pluto to the 8th House cusp of (one of) the USA natal chart guesses. (astrologers argue about which chart is the real birthchart of the USA and all the candidates have different degrees for the 8th House cusp).
Pluto rules the Natural 8th House which is Scorpio, so when Pluto in current real-time comes to a degree that is a natal 8th House, Pluto's normally exaggerated effect is exaggerated more than 100%.
So we didn't just have a recession, we had a financial foundation infrastructure melt-down which magnified the recession we were due for.
8th House and Pluto and Scorpio symbolize the resources of others, (for a country, that's taxes and borrowing from foreign governments)
Obama was elected President with Pluto transiting opposition his Natal Venus, which is just about conjunct the USA Venus. (Venus rules Taurus-finances and Libra-Relationships).
Obama also had Neptune transiting his Ascendant casting a huge, magnified (Pluto) glamor (Neptune) over all his relationships (Venus).
His ability to speak was also at a lifetime best (Venus rules the voice box) etc. The whole country resonated to his way of handling relationships, and will for a while yet.
Pluto magnifies. It's about POWER.
Put a raw electric feed from the grid directly into your house circuitry and your house will just about EXPLODE with sparks and gouts of flame. No step-down transformers between you and the power plant, and E-GAD! The rest of your natal chart is the step-down transformer network through which POWER from Pluto (yes and your Sun) gets configured to be usable for daily living.
In "The Celebrity" that step-down-transformer network does not bring the voltage down to usability all the time -- and the result is extreme fame followed by a melodramatic personal meltdown (marriages-divorces; drugs; drinking; diving a plane into the ocean; spectacular rare diseases that make headlines)
8th House is Scorpio, one of the water signs, and thus participates in psychic attributes. People with a lot of water sign points in their natal chart are psychically open on some level, often without knowing it. That can help a Celebrity read an audience.
The first 6 columns I've done for 2010 which will be posted starting in January 2010 are all about The Group Mind (the psychic bond among us all at the Scorpio/Pluto/8th House level). In those columns I examine the interactive effects of the Group Mind and the Media -- analyzing popularity at its source.
http://www.simegen.com/reviews/rereadablebooks/2010/ shows you the novels analyzed to reveal connections.
Hidden connections are Scorpio, Pluto, 8th House.
Pluto power can also manifest as a ruthlessness, obsessiveness devoid of conscience -- the perfect raw material for any arch-villain a writer might need. Secretive is a keynote of Pluto. 8th House, other's resources, plus secretiveness equals conspiracy. Wow, dynamite material for any writer.
Pluto is the upper octave of Mars that rules War (Aries, the First House, the supremacy of Ego). Mars is a cat fight, a squabble, a grab for some country's fertile fields. Mars is not violence but ego-energy, and if thwarted can use FORCE to impose the personal Will.
Pluto is war to total annihilation -- war exaggerated, with nothing personal in it. This is not war to possess the resources of another, but war to obliterate the other.
Pluto is capable of VIOLENCE with an iron clad will, an implacable purpose. But Pluto is not the violence itself, it's the magnifier that takes the violence erupting elsewhere in the chart and makes it implacable.
Pluto is the sexual "fun" derived from violence, especially the kind of violence perpetrated to control another (S&M) - games of sexual dominance played out on an international stage. (think THE GODFATHER). 8th House is also inheritance, the resources that are rightfully yours by inherent worth. Thwart that "rightful" possession and you get the explosive manifestation of Pluto. Pluto doesn't take what belongs to others. Pluto takes back what belongs to him. And everything belongs to him, by right of inheritance. Even if he has to kill to inherit. (fabulous villain material)
So why are we talking about Pluto while analyzing amusement?
We need a new theory of what amuses people for our New Electronic Age, and here's one I would like to explore.
Pluto is now making its last station on 0 degrees of Capricorn, just a bit past the USA 8th House cusp, and headed for a series of oppositions to the USA natal chart's most sensitive points.
We're in for a roller coaster ride, but if we can understand what makes Drama as Blake Snyder formulated it (2008 columns), and how the Group Mind interacts with Media (2010 columns), we can see what Pluto is magnifying.
If we then put all that together with the various other posts linked above, connect the dots and figure out what the NEXT most popular thing will be, we may trump Rowena's Dorchester editor (a great publishing imprint, BTW) and produce that Ground Zero work Heather's post on Galaxy Express talks about.
How can a writer come to understand their audience's "amusement" buttons?
The natural 5th House, Leo, ruled by the Sun, is usually considered the home of AMUSEMENT, the keynote of FUN. 5th House is where we play and recreate, procreate, speculate and gamble . 5th House is siblings and children and grandchildren, and all our love given to others. (it's opposite, 11th House is the love and appreciation we get back in return, the groups that accept us and appreciate our fun loving sense of humor.)
You'd think that to find out how to amuse people, to find out what amuses people in general, you should examine the 5th House.
But if you look at the explosive popularity of video games (based almost exclusively on violence, on KILLING opponents as a way of WINNING, of prevailing, of asserting dominance) and correlate with the demographic of the consumers of video games (teens at the threshold of sexual maturity) and then look at where Pluto was transiting during the years those teens were born, you might learn something startling about the nature of Amusement that can be sold in packages (8th House; other people's money).
In assessing any astrology problem, the hierarchy of planets is OUTER to INNER. First you look at the eclipse points, then PLUTO -- and everything else is commentary.
Most astrologers are taught to start with the Sun ruler of the Natural 5th. For our purposes, that won't work because it won't yield generational profiles.
What do generations have in common? The signs in which the outer planets Pluto, Neptune, and Uranus, are placed. The Sun goes around once a year. Those outer planets keynote generations by their slow movement. The Sun position binds generations together (each generation has an equal number of Leos, Aries, etc.). The Outer Planets separate generations.
Since advertising dollar effectiveness depends on generational age-groups, we need to look beyond the Sun for the key to the puzzle, "What Amusement Can Be Packaged And Sold For Money?"
Individual natal charts have the planets and signs in different houses, all aspected differently by faster moving points such as the Sun, Moon, Mercury and Venus. Really, when it comes down to it, astrology almost shows us why we seem to have nothing at all in common! No two of us are alike!
But as marketers have discovered, generations do have something in common with regard to taste.
What each generation wants (thank you Rowena for the "What do you want?" line) is a mystery until one of those obscure products (like hula hoops) suddenly explodes onto the scene.
There is a theme to each generation born, something that will amuse them all their lives long, in various different forms and formats.
How long Pluto stays in a given sign changes because Pluto's orbit is very elliptical, and it even cuts inside Neptune's orbit. That odd orbit, out of the plane of the ecliptic and slanting across another planet's orbit is what got Pluto demoted from planet status -- it's considered to be a captive from outer space rather than a planet formed from the plasma of our star. (BTW that is an old story, done to death in SF -- that Pluto is really a generation-ship, maybe with only dead or stasis passengers; the remains of a dead civilization out there somewhere).
So Pluto is an obsessively fascinating planet, but empirically you can see that as it changes signs, the world changes usually explosively or abruptly -- social mores change; civilizations rise and fall to the beat of Pluto (and maybe super-volcanoes and magnetic pole flips).
But on a very subconscious level, (and Pluto rules the subconscious values while the 2nd House ruler Venus rules conscious values) the Amusement Button for each generation may actually be best described by Pluto's sign in their natal charts.
What fascinates, obsesses, causes unbridled aggression -- what is it that marketers can use to get a handle on each generation?
It isn't what makes people laugh. It's what people of that generation simply can NOT take their attention away from. People will pay big bucks for what they obsess over subconsciously, bucks they won't pay for a quick laugh gone in an instant.
People would not pay $9/pack for cigarettes without nicotine (or a substitute that works as well.)
Consider these blocks of years and what topped the charts in music subjects, favorite actors, great political trends, shifting taboo lines, great-huge-magnified tsunamis of trends during these blocks of years.
Pluto takes 250 years to circle the sun, but it's in each sign (or 30 degree swatch of the zodiac) for different lengths of time.
Remember to add say 15-20 years to see when these folks would have an impact on amusement markets because they have disposable income.
PLUTO IN LEO 1939 - 1957 (Became The Flower Children of 1960's and '70's)
PLUTO IN VIRGO generation 1958 - 1972 (Gen X)
PLUTO IN LIBRA generation (assimilating out of justice?) Late 1971 - 1984 (Gen Y? sort of)
PLUTO IN SCORPIO generation 1985-1995 or so (video game generation?)
PLUTO IN SAGITTARIUS generation 1995-2008
PLUTO IN CAPRICORN (now - 2023)
Neptune Takes 165 years to circle the sun.
NEPTUNE IN LIBRA Oct 1942 - 1957
NEPTUNE IN SCORPIO 1957 - 1970
NEPTUNE IN SAGITTARIUS 1970 - 1984
NEPTUNE IN CAPRICORN 1984 - 1998
NEPTUNE IN AQUARIUS 1998 - 2011
NEPTUNE IN PISCES 2011 - 2026
Uranus 84.3 years, a lifetime.
The popular press uses the 20 year swatch for a "generation" usually, or a demographic bulge of kids all born within 10 years to define a "generation." But think about the list above and see if it doesn't make better sense than the popular press definitions.
LEO is the natural 5th House of Amusement, but also of sovereignty --
Pluto in Leo produced the Flower Children, fun on drugs, altered consciousness and "doing my own thing."
Pluto in Virgo produced Generation X, craving White Wine and monied elegance. The detail oriented upwardly mobile fashionistes. There weren't many of them because the Baby Boomers (1947-1960) and Flower Children didn't have their kids until later in life.
Pluto in Libra produced Gen Y.
Wikipedia says there's no set borders for Gen Y but they're the Boomer Echo generation, the Boomer's kids. You see The Boomers fit inside Pluto in Leo but don't take up all of it.
Gen Y was coming of age in a "liberated" world where political correctness is everything, intermarriage is the norm, and women have their children only in the last minute panic of the biological clock. Many Gen Y kids have older parents.
The last of Gen Y turned 20 in 2004, coming out of school into a crashed economy, desperately in search of social justice (Libra is Justice) in a world they believed they didn't owe anything to (unlike the Boomers who flocked to President Kennedy's Peace Corps). Gen Y is the first generation to have computers in HIGH SCHOOL classrooms, and pioneered video games.
The following is from Brookhaven History
In 1982, Creative Computing magazine picked up on the idea that Tennis for Two might be the first video game ever and it published a story on the game ...
Gen Y came of age just as the possibility of video games emerged, and the home computer became financially feasible.
PLUTO IN SCORPIO kids -- only 10 years worth of kids -- grew up with computers in GRAMMAR SCHOOL classrooms and at home and became the market for the most violent video games. Pluto rules Scorpio, the Natural 8th House - when Pluto was in Scorpio it was its most POWERFUL. For the 1/12th of those kids born with Pluto in Scorpio in their own 8th House, Pluto issues are likely to rule the whole life.
There was a huge baby boom in the 1990's. Though it's only a 10 year span, 1985-1995 saw an unusual increase in the demographic significance of that generation who are now entering college and the lesser educated workforce.
That Pluto in Scorpio generation turned out the most young voters ever in this previous Presidential election, and you've all seen their vehemence (power) in political rallies (both sides of the issues!)
The generation reared on the most violent video games is determined to assert their right to their inheritance, their rightful possession by dint of the fact that they exist.
Employers have already noted that the current 18-20 year olds they hire are mortally offended by any workplace rule that prohibits texting during work hours. Employers have no right to restrict behavior or communication during work hours. (I saw a study about that posted online, and saw several interviews about it on TV, but didn't save any references, sorry. I may have referred to it in a previous post here.)
The Pluto in Scorpio generation (only 10 years long) has passed on their taste for video games to the Pluto in Sagittarius generation.
PLUTO IN SAGITTARIUS, 1995 - 2008, are still just babies, and their buying power is still mostly controlled by Gen Y parents.
But for us, it's interesting to note the success of TWILIGHT with the Pluto in Sagittarius teens.
Gen X acquired a real taste for the teen-vampire novel. The sex appeal of Vampires with the edgy connotations of risking death is soooo PLUTO!
YA shelves filled with vampires in the 1980's, which naturally gave rise to BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER a little later, and all sorts of vampire spinoffs for older people.
TWILIGHT and the urban-fantasy vision of reality as a thin film over a seething cauldron of evil is intensely popular with Pluto in Scorpio AND Pluto in Sagittarius.
Noel Tyl, an astrologer's astrologer, has identified the axis in the natal chart that describes one's deepest anxieties, fears, nightmares, repressed fears -- the kind of deep, inarticulate fears that rule our behavior and which we rationalize.
That axis is the 3rd House/ 9th House axis.
The Natural 3rd House is Gemini, ruled by Mercury (thought, communication, short trips, fast moves, and also indecisiveness and restlessness).
The Natural 9th House is Sagittarius, ruled by Jupiter, and all about Philosophy, Courts, Social Justice, the generous and magnanimous King, the kindness of the world, success by expansion, growth. Sagittarius is all about open-honesty as the adjacent sign of Scorpio is all about hidden realities. Sag is long trips, foreign countries, PUBLISHING!!!
Kids with Pluto in Sagittarius are the teens who gobbled up Harry Potter (foreignly published) when they were 9 years old, TWILIGHT etc, in their teens. TWILIGHT treats the darker (Pluto is "dark") aspects of the vampire as "out there" and mostly ignorable, while the vampires that are "in here" are trustworthy and above all that dark stuff - probably. In TWILIGHT the nasty part is "hidden" (Pluto).
Marketers have noted a leveling off of the growth of computer games sales (not shrinking, just not growing as fast as there are no more Pluto in Scorpio kids coming to buying age)
The trend in films toward ever more exaggerated violence and destruction, spectacle for its own sake, (TRANSFORMERS?) pleasures and amuses Pluto in Scorpio folks in some way that mystifies the Pluto in Leo folks. And I don't think it's just because the Pluto in Leo folks are older. I think it's because the Pluto in Leo folks have an Amusement Button that's configured differently.
When the Pluto in Sagittarius kids are 18-25, what films will they be taking their girlfriends to? What games will they spend their money on? What will amuse them life-long? What songs will they popularize? (already, I see lyrics changing)
The dark, ugly subject matter of the first wave of popularized rap is giving way to something else, but it's gradual.
If the Pluto in Scorpio generation pushed the violence in video games beyond all previous taboos, what taboo will the Pluto in Sagittarius generation (the obese kid generation -- Jupiter, ruler of Sagittarius is famous for obesity, the JOLLY FAT WOMAN image is usually Jupiter on the Ascendant) what taboo will this new generation expand out of all sense and reason? What will obsess them as violence and destruction obsesses Pluto in Scorpio?
I also noted in the above list of transits how the position of Neptune correlates to the position of Pluto in the generational charts.
Neptune is all about illusion; Neptune, ruler of the Natural 12th House, Self Undoing, rules all things having to do with imagination, with glamor (Hollywood), charisma and also Religion and Idealism, and oddly today with technology and engineering (Pisces folks make marvelous Engineers. Engineers blend science and mechanics into technology using IMAGINATION.)
Neptune dissolves and blends.
Neptune is very hard to get ahold of conceptually.
Neptune, as I've discussed in various blog posts, is the key influence in any Romance situation. Your very personality dissolves during that key Neptune transit where you fall in love. Your bullshit filters dissolve. Your critical faculties shimmer away.
Neptune transits put you (whoever and whatever you are) into your own most receptive (Scorpio is a water sign) state such as you've never experienced before. Neptune transits allow that soul-mate bond to form.
What forms and solidifies under Neptune can never be destroyed -- that's the odd paradox of Neptune. It dissolves everything concrete but solidifies the vision. Neptune is all about hope.
It's about Magic and fantasy, hopes, dreams and imagination and everything you wish were real but isn't -- and everything you hope to God isn't real.
The generation born with Pluto in Sagittarius mostly have Neptune in Aquarius. Aquarius is the natural 11th House, as we noted above, Love Received, appreciation lavished upon you. The Pluto in Sagittarius (Justice; different from Libra's brand of Justice) generation must, as a Group Mind, be dreaming of being loved, adored, appreciated, elevated.
Tom Baker, the actor who played The Doctor in Doctor Who for about 20 years, was himself a multiple Aquarius (yeah, I found his chart).
The way he portrayed The Doctor exemplified the footloose, fancy free innovator who formed only temporary but intense ties with people who passed through his life. He cared about humanity -- not actually so much about individual humans except as they represented humanity. It's a tough distinction to make without making the character seem like a villain. But it's there if you look..
Aquarius males have a very easy time getting married, and a very very hard time staying married. They exemplify the utmost in loyalty but can't see why that should tie them down. Freedom. It's all about personal freedom.
So synthesize Pluto in Sagittarius with Neptune in Aquarius and see if you can determine the configuration of Amusement Button for the whole generation now just beginning to turn 14.
There are a lot of them and they will have buying power.
Marketers know that teens have more discretionary spending money than their parents.
When they're in college, what habit will they have become addicted to? (Pluto is that sort of energy; addiction, habit, subconscious).
Here are a couple of addendum notes to mull over while trying to nail the Amusement Button for the current teens.
Article on why it is that Science Fiction authors just can't win in this world (not sure I agree with definition of "win" but this is good advice in the making.
Is a very short post with the following link
So the core of the advice is that if you want a "genre" to gain respect, you have to drop the genre label and invent a new one.
Sylvia Louise Engdahl gives us a really explicit example of how this is being done today with her FLAME novels,
Stewards of the Flame and
Promise of the Flame,
stories of all-human societies but not on Earth, on Earth-derived colonies out there somewhere.
The setting demands the genre label SF, but the characters demand the label futuristic romance, and the plot (and huge, long, lazy expository lumps with the flavor of mainstream literary novels) demands the label philosophical fiction. Reading the FLAME novels is like reading early Heinlein but for modern readers.
So Engdahl has dropped both the YA label in which she became famous and the SF label.
Article on Women Horror Fans and film makers
“Jennifer’s Body” was designed with both feminists and 15-year-old boys in mind, a seemingly eccentric blueprint that, as Ms. Kusama points out, is in line with the best movies of the slasher tradition. “It may be one of the best ways for a young male audience to experience a female story without feeling like they have been limited by a female perspective,” she said.
"It was an effort that often bedeviled Ms. Cody and Ms. Kusama, who tried to balance brute violence and lesbian kisses with the film’s more substantial metaphors. “The tricky thing is if you’re going to subvert those tropes, they have to be there,” said Ms. Cody, whose script is a self-described “crazy, chaotic homage” to the horror films of her youth. “We were constantly bobbing and weaving. Karyn and I talk about the film as a kind of Trojan horse. We wanted to package our beliefs in a way that’s appealing to a mainstream audience.”"
"Horror films have adapted with Darwinian fortitude over the years, allegorizing everything from cold war paranoia and eco-anxiety to the breakdown of families. And yet the success of slasher movies, which exploded with films like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” in 1974 and came to dominate what we now think of as scary movies, might have stalled cinema’s most resilient genre. "
The director Rob Zombie, whose recent release, “Halloween II,” revamps another 1970s proto-slasher (and one of the original “final girls,” the character Laurie Strode), says the genre’s indulgence has been its undoing.
“The ’80s are the decade that ruined everything for everybody,” he said. “The soul went away, and it became gore for the sake of gore, and kids were cheering at killings and yelling and screaming. It became a roller coaster ride. And of course once something becomes a roller coaster, all you can do is build a bigger, more extreme roller coaster. That’s where I think horror movies really got perverted.”
There's a lot more to say on this topic of generational taste in amusement.
The important point is that people will pay more than they can afford for amusement that obsesses them, but not for amusement that merely entertains.
Those over 40 can't be enticed or attracted by advertising that costs money. Those currently over 40 were born with Pluto in Libra, Neptune in Sagitarrius. Go for it!
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Astrology Just For Writers Pt 6 - Targeting A Readership Pt 2
Posted by Jacqueline Lichtenberg at 3:21 PM
Labels: Accounting for taste, Advertising, astrology, Generation Gap, Marketing, Pluto, Transformers, Tuesday, Twilight
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Amazing, Jacqueline. I think there's a semester's worth of study in this post.ReplyDelete
Since I'm a Gemini, I betook myself off to Amazon without signing in, to see what I could find without any human/bot guidance....
Oh, no! I think readers want to cry.
Neptune... Poseidon... Do you see lots of salty tears in the future? Or are mermen and mermaids the next big wave?
Yes, this post actually took about a month to do, making notes the whole way. Of course, a lifetime of observation went behind that.ReplyDelete
Neptune MIGHT actually trump Pluto for the generation with Pluto inside the orbit of Neptune.
But I think if you combine Pluto and Neptune what you get is a misfire, power that doesn't hit the center of the target.
Remember Zen and the art of archery? If you get your head into the Neptune level where Zen works, you do hit your target without looking, and THAT could be what it takes.
Or put them together another way and you could get COMPULSIVE OBSESSIVE FASCINATION. Compulsive is Pluto, Obsessive is Pluto, Fascination is Neptune. And yes, they both rule water signs.
Note how the "soul mate" concept has risen to popularity (albeit in a niche market).
"Soul" is Neptune, 12th House, Religion, The Beyond.
"Mate" is Pluto -- irrevocably BOUND, trapped, buried within, totally obsessed, utterly addicted, implacably defensive of the Mate.
The "Soul Mate" concept is an example of one way to combine these two influences.
There's a trending topic on Twitter that happened to the poster utterly by bewildering accident (Neptune) that drove the topic to top trending all of today.
The poster asked about Know God vs No God and I've lost the quote, but the MACHINE trended the topic NO GOD and all the atheists started mortal combat with True Believers.
There's a public out there that's totally RIPE for the next obsession, and I think it will have to do with religion, magic, and POWER.
Not only take into account the natal positions of Pluto and Neptune, but also consider the effect on the total group mind of the transit of Pluto through Capricorn.
Think about how the world went geo-politically 280 years ago, around 1730 - the mid-1700's.
Do some research and see what the popular trends were when Pluto passed through Capricorn the last time. And don't forget supervolcanoes. Haven't had any pole reversals recently.
If religion is the next taboo for edgy literature, I am totally up for that.ReplyDelete
I'm up for pole reversals, too, as that would be a great alternative explanation for the change in ocean currents --especially the course of the Gulf Stream-- but I think Earth's axis has shifted slightly owing to redistribution of mass/weight at the poles.
Yes, ocean currents shifting, and the shift of weight will shift the axis, and all that has happened before.ReplyDelete
I don't know if anyone knows if there's a correlation of all these factors, but we're in a species die-off right now.
It could be this is the first time all these factors coincided, so we have a "perfect storm." Or this could be common.
Now wouldn't it be interesting if some aliens park in orbit and start studying Earth by poking at it to see what happens?
Like Ming The Merciless?ReplyDelete
I used to play chess with Mike Hodges' wife. Mike was the director of the Flash Gordon version with Brian Blessed, a very young Timothy Dalton, and the Department S guys.
Wouldn't it be interesting if some of our politicians were Stepford wives!
It's going to take a while for me to digest all this.ReplyDelete
Your advice on Theme is really helping me do that though. Things are becoming clearer and clearer to me.
There's a huge amount to comment on here and so many different topics (even if they are all related), so I'm going to split my responses.ReplyDelete
The trend is for younger people to be exposed to and jaded by ever more intense Adult experiences (sex being only one of many such -- tragedy, war, PTSS, ugly street drugs in bright suburban HS's, neighborhood murders, kidnapping -- all this stuff the prior century sheltered children from.
The trend in films toward ever more exaggerated violence.
This is what I call the "chili effect".
Expose people of all ages to something and increase the amount gradually leads to them being able to stand stronger doses. And needing the stronger doses if you want to make an impact with that particular element.
Is this necessarily a good or bad thing?
Now, I'm a Libran (Hi Linnea LOL) and what I'm witnessing with my 22 year old twins is a need to balance this up with innocent fun.
Hence, they may play a violent video game one minute and then switch to some really childish (and even innocent at times) amusement.
For example there is a Final Fantasy style video game which utilises Disney characters as the avatars. So even though these look innocent they're doing just the same things as the evil looking ones.
It's all a bit surreal.
Sometimes I wonder if this obsession/attraction for video "games" is as an antidote to the real world horrors that they've been exposed to from an early age. As in the quote above
So based on watching my kids (they may not be typical)if you want to appeal to them, you need to make them laugh.
SFR really targets OLDER people -- a ship's captain, for example, should be over 30 to be plausible, over 40 to be believable however sexy. The age of the protag determines the age of the core readership. You waste your money advertising to the over-40 crowd, but that's the target audience for most SFR. Now what do you do?ReplyDelete
OK, What do you do?
Well there's two strands to this argument.
A: How to target the over 40 audience.
B: How to make SFR appeal to a targetable audience ie 18-39 year olds.
I know I'm probably beating my head against a brick wall here,I am still NOT convinced it's the age of the protagonist that is the problem.
To me, that's a lazy answer by marketers.
The theme is what appeals to certain demographics and your astrology break down deals with this to a certain extent.
After that comes setting. What's (or where) is "in" or "out".
The latest Star Trek film followed the "B" option by having inexperienced (but brilliant) young people take over when oldies were not around.
The A option is probably best done (according to the surveys) by adding more sex LOL.
Personally, I can't see why SFR should only target "older" people. To attract the younger market, the science fiction setting itself has to become a "sexy" desirable setting.
Film helps this a lot.
But apart from this, to me the main problem is the term YA got appropriated for the teen/tween market (12-18) and the age group (18-30) does not have a name.
This age group may be quite happy to read about a 40 year old sexy space ship captain.
This is the experimental age group. The ones that want to be like that person one day.
Your observation on your 22 year olds is a good example of what I was talking about.
When the motion-picture was first developed and commercialized, people realized that the experience of a visual track was even more intense an entertainment experience than mere audio (Radio).
Then the TALKIE came in. Put the audio track beside a visual track and up the amperage.
Technology improved, Technicolor, good audio, etc etc and ever more heightened sensory input is available to the artist.
The more intense experience sells better, just like saltier or sugary-er foods sell better.
My point about the generational dividing lines was simply that people born between this date and that date crave INCREASING INTENSITY in different areas of experience.
MAYBE writers can figure the age group's cravings from looking at the positions of the outer planets during certain decades for a clue to the common elements of Natal Charts, then aim their art directly at what a given age-group craves.
The really successful artists whose careers are such a mystery do this by talent or instinct (or good parental advice, maybe). Others have to get an intellectual grasp on it before their art kicks in.
Good rundown of relationship between age of protag and target audience.
There is one more thought I was hoping someone would come up with.
The entire mechanism and scientific premise behind ADVERTISING as a business is flawed and needs re-thinking.
It's not that over-40 year olds won't CHANGE THEIR HABITS when new information becomes available. It's the method of making that information available that has to be reconstructed.
Currently, they're striving to invade the social networks - a)very young people are there, and b) 40-somethings are adopting social networking big time (facebook particularly; also LinkedIn is being bombarded).
There's something to that tactic, but as I pointed out in my blog post here
The entire advertising via social networking is based on a fallacious premise.
Fix that premise, just that one of the myriad taught in business school, and I think you would have a method of advertising to the 40+ crowd that would be extremely effective.