17.6: Hitting Reset Without Getting Hit Back

Your Hosts: Howard Tayler, Kaela RiveraSandra Tayler, and Megan Lloyd

Oh no! You’re in the middle of a thing (a novel, a series, a career) and you suddenly realize that the expectations you set early on are not the expectations you’ll be meeting. What do you do now? ,

We’re talking about how go about resetting audience expectations, whether mid-story, mid-series, or mid-career, including some strategies for communicating “everything is changing now, forget what you know” without making the audience feel like they’ve been betrayed.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson


“Eight Expectations” would have been a great title for this eight-episode dive into expectations-as-a-structure, but it would have required a different outline. Your homework? Write up the course outline that Howard couldn’t.

Circle: Two Worlds Connected (Korean TV series)
We’re not sure where you can watch it in your locale, so we gave you the Wikipedia link.

7 thoughts on “17.6: Hitting Reset Without Getting Hit Back”

  1. One of the best examples of multiple course corrections is the James Bond movie franchise. The direction has changed with the introduction of each new actor playing Bond. But perhaps the biggest and best course correction was with “Casino Royale”. the movie that introduced Daniel Craig.

    The franchise started out semi-realistic with the first two movies, “Dr No.” and “From Russia with Love”. Then, starting with “Goldfinger” it got more fantastical. With the Roger Moore movies it also got more and more cartoonish. The Pierce Brosnan movies represented a shift toward a more realistic approach, while retaining many of the fantastical elements. But “Casino Royale”, the 2006 version, was hyper-realistic. With the retirement of Craig, we will likely see another change in direction.

    The Bond franchise gives writers a chance to see how to hit reset with more or less success. I think that, even though it was a major change in direction, “Casino Royale” was the most successful of all the transitions the Bond movies have gone through.

  2. Funny enough, going into this podcast, Attack on Titan was in mind as one of the best possible examples of what is being discussed here. What it does do well is take the main character and his understandable, vengeful focus on the primary conflict, and morph that into something much more complex and morally ambiguous. It does well to stay within its roots while responsibly expanding the scope of the story.

    About 70% of the story is deemed as the set-up to the primary conflict.

    “If we kill all of our enemies… Over there… Will we finally… Be free?”

    1. I totally agree. I was really surprised to hear it criticized for this of all reasons. I don’t think that actually killing Eren off way back in season 1 would have done much for the show. In poorly written action/adventure stories, main characters survive because they are the protagonists, but in well written ones, they are the protagonists because they survive. I consider Eren to belong to this latter group for sure–the story is about his quest for revenge, and removing him at such an early stage removes the bulk of the story world’s reason for existing.

      1. This nicely illustrates a key part of this entire topic, which is that you can’t make everyone happy all the time. Even if you think you’ve set (or reset) expectations correctly, there are audience members who won’t be satisfied with your work.

        It doesn’t mean you don’t need to at least TRY, however.

  3. The promising quartet, Howard, Kaela, Sandra, and Megan, take on the question of resetting expectations, transmuting those old promises into new ones without breaking the trust of the audience. Million-Dollar Baby? Kung Fu Panda 2? Attack on Titan? Avatar the Last Airbender? Schlock Mercenary and The Teraport Wars? Lots of discussion and examples, that you can read about now in the transcript available in the archives.

  4. I would have loved another episode on the reader expectations you can’t control (much): which types of books the reader had read previous to reading your book, in which context they heard about your book, what reviews they read… Are there any proven ways to mitigate them?

Comments are closed.