Friday, May 02, 2008

New Word - Anticipointment

I get all kinds of dictionary type words in my mailbox but got one that I really thought was interesting in a lot of ways. This one came from the Double Tongued Dictionary.

Anticipointment - n. WPXI news director Corrie Harding acknowledged there’s a term for teasing stories that don’t deliver: “anticipointment.” “If we make a story sound like the second coming and tease it four times and it’s really nothing by the time we get there” that leads to anticipointment, Harding said. Stations don’t set out to aggravate viewers, but as WTAE news director Bob Longo notes, TV is also a business. —“Tuned In: TV news directors listen, learn from viewer gripes” by Rob Owen Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania) Apr. 25, 2008.

Now, this was primarily for media type news sources but I can sure see it for the reading and writing of books or watching movies or TV programs.

I'm sure we've all seen movies or TV because of a commercial or ad that makes that particular entertainment sound like award winning stuff and it turns out to be a shade short of Boring. You're miffed if you spent money for the movie or you change the channels if you've watching the tube.

Books aren't much different. They're a form of entertainment that either cost you money or time (to read).

For example, have you ever read the back cover or review of a book and thought -- mmm, sounds like something I'd like? I know I have. The problem is that the back cover copy or review builds up my anticipation of the story but, occasionally, the book doesn't deliver or satisfy that anticipation. I don't feel cheated, necessarily, because it might be a good story but it's not precisely what I was expecting from the blurb or review. That's a shame because it lessens the chances that I'll purposely seek out other books by that author.

I've heard others say not to judge a book by it's back cover (or its cover for that matter) and I agree. In principle. The back cover copy (or blurb - I use the terms interchangeably) is supposed to peak a reader's interest so it will use words that 'marketing' thinks will entice a reader to buy it. But it also increases an anticipation factor that, if it isn't met, can cause that 'anticipointment' even for books that otherwise would be classified as good reads.

And that's the big danger that exists for books.

With movies or TV, we don't depend as much on the screenwriter (who we may never have heard of...if we pay any attention to their name at all) but, with books, we will often seek out the next book and the next book of an author who meets our anticipation, who fully delivers the promise of the back cover copy. When a reader is left with 'anticipointment' though, s/he likely won't remember much about the author and consequently won't go looking for his or her other books.

IMO, 'anticipointment' is more dangerous to an author's career than just about anything else because it can lead to loss of sales or career even for a good writer.

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