Writing a Novel Like a Movie

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When I wrote The Silent PartnerI wrote it with visual stimulations of storytelling that I hoped would resonate with readers. Sure, there had to be great mechanics, grammar, structure, character, story construction, and prose. But to make emotion resonate throughout the story visually, the reader had to see and feel the story unfold. 

I often get frustrated reading stories that have too much description (and adverbs) or not enough of it. (Straight dialogue does get right to it, doesn’t it? To me, this can be even more like a screenplay, but–personal taste–I desire to read stories that allow me to sink into the story.) 

Of course, I had no idea if I was going the right direction with The Silent Partner, but after winning two Eric Hoffer Awards, including 1st Place in Commercial Fiction, now I really hope I’m onto something. I’m not proclaiming this process is revolutionary. It’s simple: connect with readers swiftly and powerfully. I wrote the novel this way, and will do this with the next one as well.

Simple tactics I employed:

  • Details matter, but too many of them distract the reader and slow the narrative drive.
  • Use the details that mean something. Use symbolism when appropriate, and don’t use clichéd ones.
  • Stay away from adverbs whenever possible. It forces you to show the reader something a different way. Some readers think adverbs are lazy. I normally just don’t like the way they look on the page. (The occasional adverb is also more powerful then, too.)
  • I was willing to get rid of “well-written passages” that didn’t move the story along aforementioned: swiftly and powerfully.
  • I stayed away from melodrama but embraced drama. It connects.
  • Stories are made great by fascinating characters. I spent a lot of time on building and complicating them. And they change with well-thought-out reasons.
  • I allowed the story to have waves, or levels. Strong dialogue sections separate from action sequences. Exposition was simply written, and I worked hard to use the right language to get the ideas out quickly. With as few words possible. Then the story moved along more quickly, too.
  • Find ways to say things without dialogue.
  • Create scenes that have visually stunning–and relevant–actions. Then, they become memorable.
  • The audience is smarter than we sometimes give them credit for. Don’t forget this. We don’t always need to spell everything out. 

Here’s to more great storytelling.

Good luck.

Preparing for the Book Signing

Though I had gotten good tools from my publisher for my first book signing, I searched online for assistance with a book signing involving a self-publishing house, and couldn’t find much. Having never done this before, I looked online for things like “preparing for a book signing,” and got some great advice. Clearly, self-published authors can face a rude awakening for their first book signing if they aren’t prepared from day one. Here is what I discovered beyond what I found online: dealing with the self-publishing house.

First, make sure you see the proof of the book before you put in a full order for them. Not an online proof, but the book itself. For my novel, The Silent Partner, I reviewed both the hardcover and softcover before I let the publisher send my copy order to print. If there’s anything you missed, this is the last time to change it, or discover something on the publisher’s end that went awry. Refuse to sign off on anything until you carefully review these.

Next, order enough books. No one wants to keep dozens of filled boxes of their work in their garage (I don’t even have one), so it’s easy to understand going easy on the book ordering. However, it would be equally as tragic to run out of books at a signing as it would be if no one showed up. Be prepared for “showtime.” If there are only crickets at the signing, there are always bookstores looking for good books, even on consignment. Plus, there’s always more signings . . . unless your first experience is so bad you decide to hang it up. (I’ve already prepared for this, and won’t hang anything up. I’ll have plenty of bourbon and red wine at home.)

Be prepared for the house to try to sell you EVERYTHING. From book listings to the services of a publicist and TV commercials, they have every desire possible to sell books, too. Books bought directly from the publisher (and not discounted on 3rd party sites like Amazon or B&N) have the highest profits for them, and the self-publishing houses seek authors who are anxious to get their books seen and purchased. There is no moral or ethical question about this, but it’s important to be prepared for it. You may need to put money aside for such extravagances.

If your book is to be posted on any 3rd party sites, confirm that the correct book description and “about the author” is used. (I had a number of instances where unapproved book descriptions were used and the “about the author” that I had supplied the publisher wasn’t used, but rather an outdated one from my blog (which has since been updated). Seriously, these details matter.

Next, make sure your books are ordered and on their way to your address before you solidify a book signing date. With all of the other preparations, who needs the stress?

If one of these steps helps another author, I’d be ecstatic. Learning along the way. I’ve never expected it any different. In the end, it’s all about the work being read how it was intended. And that time is almost near:

What: Book Signing Release Party: Terrence King’s The Silent Partner 

Where: Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore: 7051 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92111.

When: Saturday, August 4th, 2012. 2:30pm

The first 25 people receive a free softcover of the novel.

Cheers!

Casting for the Book Trailer


The last two evenings, actors met with me and the crew. We sat across from them at the table, as many as six of us “judges” providing them the opportunity to audition for specific roles. It was a lot like American Idol, without the wailing or public exploitation of both good and lesser performances. Or J. Lo. We were put back, impressed, humored, deflated, inflated, and surprised. (No one was rude, which was refreshing considering how often I deal with it during the day.) The actors ranged from prepared to non-chalant, all were gracious, and we think we have some gems out of the dozens of performances.

Something that grabbed me throughout the trials–interesting I would describe them as trials–was that a substantial number of these people were inspired by the new story world that I created. As colorful and complex as the characters are in the novel, the actors brought a new dimension to them. Of course, I expected this. But I had not seen actors act out lines I had created for a while. (As anyone who has attempted–let alone succeeded–writing a novel knows, it’s a much more grueling process than writing a screenplay. It’s taken a few years to complete it.) Seeing the words, inflections, and nuances come to life was surreal. The actors that took it the most seriously–the ones that memorized lines sent to them prior to their audition–impressed me with their dedication to representing themselves to the best of their ability.

The things we heard: “I’m perfect for this role.” “I’m so nervous.” “Can I do it again?” “Can I stand?” “Can I sit?” “Oh, you’re the writer.” “I think this script is amazing.” (Right.) “How much does this pay?” “Can you tell me more about the motivations of the character?” “Do you want me to do it differently?” “I practiced in the kitchen all day with my roommate.”

A few of the actors, seasoned and aspiring ones alike, gave me chills when I saw them supercharge their performances. Enjoy the process. And no small process it is. In the end, as I picture the immense undertaking the crew faces, the auditions made me step back and realize, This is coming together.