I believe most writers have one story to tell. I developed this belief after reading several books by the same author. Bret Easton Ellis writes about his messed-up life in various incarnations. Douglas Coupland writes about the lost generation in various incarnations. Some of the characters are the same, some of the stories are similar, but it could be argued that they’re simply super-serving their niche.
Ed Burns received advice from Tyler Perry I believe that he should be super-serving his niche and writing more Irish-American family dramadies. That’s when he wrote the Fitzgerald Family Christmas. It worked. Whenever he strayed from that, his films didn’t do as well financially. Newlyweds wasn’t strictly about an Irish American family, but it was a similar story about the fragility of modern relationships and the temptation for something better outside of them.
Sometimes writers don’t discover their niche until after a few attempts. Finding your niche is about finding the truth in your life story. You figure out who you are and what your life is about and how you want to tell that story to the world. No matter what kind of story you tell, that truth of who you are will always shine through as long as you know what it is that is essentially you.
In the case of Ed Burns for example, he produced a film called Looking for Kitty, which didn’t do very well and was not reviewed favorably. The reason for this, even as Ed Burns himself said at last year’s TIFF, was that he strayed too far from his niche. The film was about a private detective hired to track down his client’s ex-wife. It’s possible he could have infused the film with his usual Irish charm and wit, turning it into a subplot for relationship drama, but it didn’t work out that way. Fitzgerald Family Christmas was a return to what he does best. He delved into the lives of a family and their various issues, tying it together with a nice red Christmas bow.
What is your niche? What is your life story that you have to share with the world and how do you plan to express that? What unique perspective do you bring? What kind of world do you live in or want to live in? Who inhabits your world and what do you love about them? Why would the world be a better place if we met these characters and lived in your world for two hours or twenty-six episodes a year? Already figured it out? Share it with us. I’d love to hear it.