Sounds boring, right?
Well, it might be to someone who isn’t trying to break into publishing or land a screenwriting gig anywhere in Hollywood. But to those of us seeking to do the improbable, like land a publisher or agent, you may need to know how to write a marketing plan and compose a comparative titles analysis for your book or screenplay.
Below is a copy of my final project from one of my many writing courses. I’m sharing for any of you who might want to know what to do when a publishers website says they want a marketing plan or a comparative titles analysis for the manuscript or screenplay you’re submitting.
Next Week I will post a more in-depth “how-to” of this process. It’s not as tough as you think!
The Threestone Trilogy (Inertia, Force, and Reaction), and Inertia (TV series), is based around three not-so-inanimate Stones. While these stones may look ordinary, they are a character unto themselves. Like the Island in ABC’s LOST, these small stones have the ability to ultimately end everything in existence.
Three little stones could destroy everything?
Everything. In every universe.
But only if Daemon gets his way. G is the only one who can stop him, that’s why Daemon needs to kill him. But this version of G doesn’t know anything about the stones or interdimensional travel. The fate of everything in existence is in his hands and he’s stumbling ass-backwards into more trouble than he can ever imagine.
INERTIA is a pilot for an original TV series, packed with sci-fi action/adventure that carries themes of love and doing the right thing even when it feels wrong. The pilot focuses on two men, G (protagonist) and Daemon (antagonist), who are both after the same thing: the Tresunus, or Threestone. One white, one red, one black: the three stones are powerful and inseparable, possessing the ability to absorb, amplify and manipulate all forms of energy, opening violent wormholes into other dimensions.
The science fiction genre is a bit like horror, in that it’s always popular among certain demographics, so there is always a market for production. Yet, according to Polygon online magazine, the past decade has seen a vast increase of the market for science fiction. “Science fiction is going through an era of rapid change and expansion. Just as fantasy television, superhero movies, comics, cosplay, and other traditionally marginalized fan pursuits have moved into the mainstream, science fiction media has become much more visible over the last decade, reaching a wider audience.” This is evident at the box office of every Marvel movie Disney has pumped out. Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness is the highest grossing film of 2022. In television, we see the same trend. Stranger Things is a cultural phenomenon, packed with thrills and 80’s nostalgia. Dark, a fantastic German sci-fi thriller is most popular among audiences outside of Germany.
My creative work reflects these trends because it sits firmly within the parameters of science fiction, using real, existing scientific theory (String, M, Pocket Universe, Bubble theories) while also bringing something new to the proverbial table. The first major difference is the Stones themselves. As they naturally and uncontrollably absorb energy, they can also give super-hero-like power to the one who wields them. There’s also set of them in every universe. The next unique marker to a viewer is the construction of the gateway. The wormholes that the Threestone open look like fiery cyclones, forming from the ground up. Outside, they are all violence and smoke, releasing radiation (Hawking’s Radiation) and leaving a path of destruction that can kill plants, animals, and even people if the stones are left in one place for too long. Inside the gateway, as characters pass through, there’s only peace and glorious color. There’s no way to stabilize or study the gateway without electricity, at least not right away. Third, and most notably, within this multiverse, time is relative, so crossing over means stepping into another time. To the main character, and viewers, it looks like time travel.
Earlier this year, Statica.com conducted a panel survey of 4,817 people who watched TV. When asked, “In general, what types of films or shows do you watch on TV?” An average of 31% of respondents in all age categories said they watch science fiction TV shows (ages 18-29: 24%, ages 30-49: 34%, and ages 50-64: 35%) in 2021. Those are viewers who are not using streaming services, and who also identify as fans of the science fiction genre.
According to another online survey conducted last year, “genre preferences between fantasy and science fiction are generally spread evenly, with a small preference for science fiction among older and male respondents. Most (80.1%) come from families of readers, and 92.1% also watch science fiction and fantasy films and TV shows…[over the years] the science fiction audience has a more balanced gender and age profile” (Menadue). This supports the findings of TV viewing audiences in the Statica survey. People of all ages and gender like to read and watch science fiction, which presents a broad potential audience for TV shows like Inertia.
I believe audience demographics would fall along lines similar to ABC’s LOST, Netflix’s Dark series, and the Starz drama, Outlander because there are similar themes and subject matter. The shows listed are science fiction for people who don’t know they like science fiction. I do not consider myself a fan of sci-fi, yet I love all of those shows because the worlds in which they take place are responsible for the character’s peril, not the characters themselves, who are uniquely ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. Inertia uses real scientific theory with fantastical elements, both of which appeal to sci-fi readers (Menadue). However, the way the science is presented, in a real-world setting, where the audience learns alongside the characters, the tone leans more towards an audience who may not specifically look for science fiction shows to watch. Because of this, I believe a streaming platform (like Netflix, Amazon, or Apple) would be the best place for potential viewers to find their new favorite show through the platforms intuitive use of viewer habits and data analytics. A streaming platform is also a wonderful place to search for specific sci-fi television programs.
Comparative Titles Analysis
LOST was a popular sci-fi/fantasy drama that ran on ABC from 2004 to 2010 about the passengers of flight 815. The plane suddenly crash landed on a mysterious, uncharted island that was much more than it seemed. LOST was ABC’s number one series for its entire run. Viewership mainly fell into the 18-39 age range with no noted differentiation in gender. According to a Forbes magazine article, 13.5 million viewers tuned-in for the series finale, which was higher than their regular share of viewers. “Not a one of the show’s millions of fans would’ve been caught dead not knowing what happened come Monday morning, and I’m sure a good portion of the disenfranchised, weary and just plain curious also came back to see the big reveal.” The meaning of the finale has been debated for years and LOST is still (among fans) considered the best show on television. The overarching plot of my series, Inertia is in this same abstruse vein. The elemental forces that make interdimensional travel possible are a character all their own, a living force, like the Island was in LOST. My show also examines the protagonist’s loving obsession with the three stones and compares it to the antagonist’s more religious relationship with the living rocks and how each of them uses the stones in different ways. Like LOST, there’s also a huge plot-twist at the end of the pilot, to pique viewers interests.
Dark, a German sci-fi mystery/thriller, debuted on Netflix in 2017 and ran for three seasons. It’s offered worldwide, with subtitles in multiple languages. According to Mark Serrels at Cnet.com, in his article, After ‘Stranger Things,’ More People Should Watch The Best Show on Netflix, “Dark is the rarest of things: a show without a single dip in quality. All three seasons rule in every way imaginable.” The story centers on a teenage boy, Jonas, whose life is upended when a young boy he knows goes missing. The search brings out long-buried secrets between families within the small town of Winden, causing Jonas’s life to unravel. Honestly, the series is beautifully convoluted (like Inertia). Dark is the kind of show that you can only beg people to watch because it’s too complex to explain. There’s interdimensional and time travel, the birth of the universe, the death of mankind, and teenage angst in no less than three different dimensions. As far as similarities go, this is the show that most closely aligns with the plot and themes of Inertia, and I could not have been happier to find that out when I started watching Dark a few years ago. Inertia has similar familial discourse, the tension of love relationships that transcend time and space, it also takes place in a multiverse with recurring events. And like Dark, Inertia is visually stunning, with a first season that also involves a child that needs saving (Serrel). Audience interest in Dark transcends language and geography, as Netflix reports that 90% of Dark’s viewers are outside Germany (Comacon Magazine).
Outlander began in 2014, and is in its 7th season on the Starz network. The series tells the trials and tribulations of a 1940’s combat nurse who inexplicably travels through an Irish standing stone to the year 1743. Outlander began as a popular book series, but it’s watched mainly by women who are in the “older-skewing 25-54 demographic” (Business Insider). Basically Moms, like me. Inertia also has strong themes of love and the importance of truth at the heart of the series, like Outlander does. It also tests those love relationships through involuntary time-travel.
Inertia is a touch of all of these shows. It’s a series with heart, with love and romance, danger and inevitable disappointment that speaks to the human condition. There’s time travel in a multiverse that offers major 90’s nostalgia, a misunderstood antagonist facing off with an inept, ill-prepared protagonist, who, at the end of the day, will win because good always triumphs over evil. Eventually.
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Emerges as the Biggest Box-Office Grosser of 2022.” Economic Times. India Times. 29 May, 2022. Web. 27 July 2022. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/new-updates/doctor-strange-in-the-multiverse-of-madness-emerges-as-the-biggest-box-office-grosser-of-2022/articleshow/91869979.cms
Menadue, Christopher Benjamin, and Susan Jacups. “Who Reads Science Fiction and Fantasy, and How Do They Feel About Science? Preliminary Findings From an Online Survey.” SAGE Open. Apr. 2018. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2158244018780946#:~:text=Genre%20preferences%20between%20fantasy%20and,fantasy%20films%20and%20TV%20shows
N.a. “LOST: Behind The Numbers Of A TV Phenomenon. Forbes.com. 1 June 2010. Web. 19 July 2022. https://www.forbes.com/2010/06/01/lost-finale-numbers-personal-finance-lost-series-finale.html?sh=7ec0d4591fa8
Nededog, Jethro. “5 reasons so many moms are obsessed with Star’s sexy new historical fantasy show ‘Outlander.’ BusinessInsider.com. 7 May 2015. Web. 19 July 2022. https://www.businessinsider.com/starzs-outlander-mom-audience-2015-5#:~:text=%22Outlander%22%20is%20watched%20predominately%20by,episode%20of%20the%20current%20season
“Netflix Series Dark – An International Success Story.” Comacon-Magazine.com. n.d. Web. 26 July 2022. https://www.comacon-magazine.com/en/news-en/netflix-serial-dark-an-international-success-story/
“Outlander.” Internet Movie Database. IMDb.com. n.d. Web. 26 July 2022. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3006802/
Schuster, Nicole. “Marketing 101 As Told By Stranger Things.” Agency Spotter Marketing Matters. Co.AgencySpotter.com. n.d. Web. 27 July 2022. https://co.agencyspotter.com/marketing-101-as-told-by-stranger-things/#:~:text=The%20show’s%20primary%20viewership%20is,it%20intrigues%20their%20target%20audience.
Serrels, Mark. “After ‘Stranger Things,’ More People Should Watch the Best Show on Netflix: this incredible show has plenty in common with Stranger Things, so check it out!” cnet.com. 25 July 2022. Web. 27 July 2022. https://www.cnet.com/culture/entertainment/after-stranger-things-more-people-should-watch-the-best-show-on-netflix/
“Share of Americans Who Watched Science Fiction and Fantasy Programs on TV in 2021, By Age.” Statica TV, Video & Film. Statica.com. 2022. Web. 27 July 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/229115/tv-viewers-who-typically-watch-science-fiction-programs-usa/