Boring old stereotypes are the best things ever in the history of things
Updated: Jan 14, 2020
It's true. They are. At least when it comes to writing pointers and promos. In fact, whether you're crafting scripts, breaks, promos, memes or social media posts, overused stereotypes are your BFF forever. And yes I'm aware that I just used an extra 'forever', because that's how much of a besty they are. The reason they're so good is that you can start things off with a stereotype then totally derail them and surprise the audience. It's fun and oddly satisfying to take revenge on tired old tropes in this way.
What kind of stereotypes am I on about? Well pretty much all the ones that pop up in the content we consume on a regular basis. Like the dramatic movie trailer that builds up to a climax then suddenly stops and delivers a line in the silence. Here's a stereotype busting approach for that little scenario...
The process of writing something like that starts with a question - what if? You start the promo with a stereotype then ask yourself, 'what if?' In this case I asked myself 'what if the person doing the voice over doesn't realise that when everything stops it's her cue to deliver a dramatic line?'
Of course there are plenty of other tropes to use and abuse. What about the radio industry’s time honoured tradition of promoting everything that's 'coming soon' with a dramatically produced teaser complete with suspenseful music? This teaser for a live concert called Nova's Red Room has that one covered.
Look, before we make another stereotype our bitch, I want to point out that a little chest beating is ok. If your organization has done something great then sure, boast about it. You’ve given away a car? Then let that winner scream OH MY GOD all day long in pointers and replays. That’s fine. But there’s also a time to endear yourself to the audience with a little truth, which is something I’ve covered in detail in the comedy writing guide if you want to read up about it further. Basically the truth strategy goes like this - people are bombarded with BS from all corners of the media and they know it. So when you offer the audience a little truth and humility they’ll find it very refreshing.
In this next promo we start off by suggesting that the radio station has entered into a big important partnership with big important Hollywood people. It’s a chest beating stereotype of the highest order. But then, well, the truth comes out and things aren’t quite as they seem.
So if you find the same old formulas playing out in your work, don’t be discouraged, just hit pause half way through your creative journey and try taking the road less traveled.