Mystery writers have it easy – this person killed that one for this reason, and this person figured it out. But telling a stranger in a strange land kind of story, that’s a different fish.
I’ve been thinking about that storyline where your protagonist is in a totally new place – you know, in prehistoric times, or the far future, or inside a molecule or something. He’s an SIASL, a stranger in a strange land. You’re a writer – I know you’ve played with those storylines.
The challenge, as I’m sure you found out, is that, eventually, the SIASL has to wise-up. Eventually the joke wears thin.
You’re too young to remember Mork and Mindy, but that was a huge SIASL story. Even more so The Beverly Hillbillies. Austin Powers, New Girl, Schitt’s Creek, Arrested Development, even The Good Place – it’s a pretty common shtick.
The key to longevity, especially in a TV series, is to surround the SIASL with quirky characters that have their own stories. That takes the pressure off of the SIASL and gives the writers a little more wriggle room.
So, my protagonist is also an SIASL, an Elizabethan playwright that finds himself in the 21st century. It’s a fun story, full of the usual “good heavens what is that?” bits.
But, our old friend The Sequel rears its ugly head. How do you get your SIASL to survive a second book?
Didn’t you learn anything in the first book? You mean you STILL haven’t figured things out?
I suppose one could stuff the second book with a bunch of quirky characters, but now the book is about them. Mork and Mindy and Friends.
Part of the fun of an SIASL is exploring their alien point of view, be it from the future, past, or another planet. But even that wears thin eventually.
Oddly enough, Superman is also an SIASL. The difference is that his story is not about his being an alien. Here’s a guy who drops all pretense at being different – nope, I’m just like you guys… a little stronger maybe, a little more bulletproof, and I can fly, but otherwise… We don’t get his Kryptonian POV on anything, just truth, justice, and the American Way. He’s more like a boy scout from another planet who seems to enjoy wailing on humans from time to time.
So, as long as I have the hood open reinforcing the plot of my novel, I now have the joy of reconsidering the longevity of the SIASL gambit.
Boy. This writing thing is tough!