What Steven Universe Taught Me About Writing

STEVEN UNIVERSE and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © Cartoon Network.

It must be said: Today’s children have the best cartoons of all time. While they may not be Shakespeare, cartoon shows like Avatar: The Last Air Bender, Adventure Time, and Steven Universe have mastered wrapping character development, layered storytelling, humor and emotion into 30-minute (and even 11-minute) episodes.

My latest cartoon obsession, Steven Universe, follows a young boy and his magical mother figures as they face everything from giant floating eyeballs to issues of anxiety and low self-esteem. As a show that manages to connect with both 8 year olds and sophisticated writers approaching their mid-20s, Steven Universe has taught me some solid lessons about connecting to audiences through my writing.

1. Create something multifaceted

Steven Universe isn’t just beloved for its unique characters and pun-filled comedy. The show creators use a combination of award-worthy artwork and catchy tunes reminiscent of our favorite RPG video games to create a complete story. Whether you’re writing a blog post or creating a marketing campaign, it’s important to use all of the tools you have at your disposal in order to produce a compelling, well-rounded message. I try my best to boost my content with images, informative links or videos.

2. Don’t pigeonhole your audience

Writing relatable content is about a lot more than throwing around hashtags or putting a spin on the latest meme. Your target market isn’t made up of pop culture automatons – they’re layered human beings with multiple interests and experiences.

Though the target demographic for Steven Universe may be young, the writers don’t drown the show in butt jokes in order to appeal to children (though who can get tired of those). Steven Universe connects to both kids and adults with story themes that transcend age demographics such as struggling to fit in or dealing with the loss of a parent. You can transcend your target audience and draw in some unexpected customers by using storytelling and empathy to make your brand more relatable.

3. Create something you care about

As a serial perfectionist, if I don’t feel like I have a good idea or if I’m not passionate about a subject, I can spend hours in front of the dreaded white page. While in the professional world, you can’t always write the content you want, you can always try to find an angle that interests you in order to get started. When I’m stuck on something, worried that the end product won’t meet my (admittedly insane) expectations, I remember the words from the Emmy-nominated episode, “Lion 3: Straight to Video”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQ7HYZk5Wh4

Not bad for a crime-fighting dog with a propeller on his back.

Enjoy this post? Read more from Trina.

Trina DunnMessage Board Assistant

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