Last weekend I was talking to a friend about what he thought of the most recent hobbit movie. Without going into too much detail the short story is that he hated it. He thought the fight scenes were far too long and took up too much of the movie, he also felt that there was little connection to the characters. I’ve got to admit, I fully disagree with the perspective, but it’s totally valid. So, from the stand-point of story telling, I thought about it. Why should he come away with an opinion so totally opposite of mine? I think it boils down to expectations. I went in half-expecting the movie to suck, but hoping like hell to be entertained – I wanted my fifty-bucks worth of entertainment. I felt like it was delivered. My friend however, and this is a bit of speculation, was expecting to be absolutely blown away. Impressed by the movie in a way the book had.
With that in mind, I can see how folks, especially critics, felt let-down. A lot of people were going in expecting to see the movie with the same eyes they saw the Lord of The Rings. Well, that wasn’t going to happen, it rarely does with books turned into movies. What this highlights to me is the importance of properly setting expectations in your story. Over-promise, and don’t deliver, it doesn’t matter how well done the story is, people will say it sucks. Set expectations properly, and you’re likely to succeed in entertaining your reader without making them feeling like they’ve been the subject of a bait-and-switch scheme. I think my point here is to consider how much any given plot element or character or conflict is built up before you get to the end.