A friend who watched my movie “The Barrier” commented that established genres, like mysteries, have well established stock characters and situations that people are familiar with. Few people have that kind of familiarity with transportation planning. That makes it harder to connect with the audience.
With “The Barrier” (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-LOUNSEKac) I have tried to create a new story genre. That does create a challenge for me when I try to communicate to the potential audience.
In any genre there are stock characters and situations that people are familiar with. For example, in a mystery story there is the detective, the victim, the client and the villain. The role of the detective is clear, they catch the bad guy. The detective follows is a set procedure to achieve that goal.
In a transportation fiction story, the audience would not know who is the hero and who is the villain. Is the transportation engineer a good guy or a bad guy? What is he or she supposed to accomplish? Writers want some ambiguity and depth to their characters to intrigue the reader. However, if there is too much, the audience will just be confused.
I have thought of a number of ways to over come the communication challenge. I believe that I need to build an audience who are attuned to the genre. Unless I reach beyond the transportation planning community, the potential audience is too small to support a project like “The Barrier”.
One idea that continues to come up in my thoughts is to create an on-line “zine” to publish and promote transportation planning fiction. It doesn’t look like it would be a hard thing to do technically. The difficult part is to attract people who want to read, and write, transportation planning fiction.
I have had a few people contact me in connection with “The Barrier” about their experiences that would make for good stories. At the time I didn’t want to follow up on those suggestions because of potential copyright and liability problems. If I created a “zine”, I would need to work those out. While my main interest is to promote my movies and stories, I need to see that other contributors get what they want out of the venture as well.
I can see problems with paying contributors, especially when there is no certainty of adequate revenue. I would likely need to do quite a bit of editing of submissions; and I’m not the greatest writer in the history of the world by any stretch of the imagination.
The one aspect I have worked out to my satisfaction is the title: “The Journal of Transportation Fiction”. It is a play on the titles of typical technical journals. On the other hand, Bent Flyvbjerg might say there is already too much transportation fiction.
If you, or someone you know, would like to pursue this idea, please get in touch with me. If there is enough interest, we might just make a go of it.