Writing On The Cheap

Hell everyone, Flobo here!

Today, I want to chat with you about “writing on the cheap”. No, this isn’t a post about how to selfpub your book without breaking the bank (although that IS worth a post or two in the future), but rather how to create a world for your work that is produce-able.

OK, so what do I mean?

Well, in addition to an aspiring novelist, I am also a screenwriter. (Don’t worry I don’t have the mansion with the private jet quite yet). The major difference between writing for prose and writing for the screen is that in one (books) you tell don’t show, and in the other (the screen) you show, and don’t tell. I can say “Mike felt the range boiling within,” in a novel with no problems, but if a character actually said “I feel the rage boiling inside of me” I would be sooooo out of work.

“I can feel the unemployment boiling inside of me.”

Since I make screenplays with the intention on making them into films, it would best suit me to write things that I can actually use or can accquire. For example, a friend of mine owns a ranch out in rural San Diego, so I can craft a script using that location without having to worry much. Conversely, I would be hesitant to write a piece about a spaceship because I don’t have access to one, or rather have the money to build a spaceship set for that purpose.

Maybe my alien uncle could loan me his

“OK, ENOUGH ABOUT THAT” you’re saying. “I write novels Flobito. I’m not bound by some desire to make movies of my work, I want people to enjoy my works for what they are.”

To that I say that’s fair. If you have an idea for an adventure epic that spans three continents involving large diamonds and exotic cars by all means go ahead. When your book is done, you are going to want people to read it, I’m sure. What’s the best way to get new eyes on your work? Marketing of course. Years ago, the most cutting edge thing to have was a Book Trailer. You know, the little short videos that describe what your book is about. Take this video for instance:

(I don’t endorse said book, just using it as an example)

Of course this is beginning to evolve into ACTUAL short films/trailers. We’ve become to accustomed to the YouTube era, that you just can’t put your book on a bookshelf (electronic or otherwise) and just wait while the masses stoop by to scoop it up. People want some sort of visual stimulation; this is why the once lost art of the book cover is making a comeback. This is also why writers like CSI’s Anthony Zuiker took some time to make “Digi-Novels“, books with short film “chapter breaks” within them. Now suddenly there’s pressure to not only write a great books, but also provide excellent visual “sneak peeks”. Unfortunately sometimes that doesn’t happen, and poor book trailers can actually affect sales. Like this for example. (Click YouTube button for comments)

(I don’t endorse said book, just using it as another example)

I’ve rambled enough. For those of you that like lists, here’s what you can do to put your work in a position so you can spend less on marketing later.

1. Story and Characters – The  saying is true, if your characters and stories are strong enough, people will forgive a lot more than if these were weak. These two elements are your foundations. You can sell a witty exchange/chemistry between characters a lot better than an explosion if your audience is invested in them. Er, the characters, not the explosions. Unless they’re pyromaniacs.

2. Be Original – But there’s an old adage in Hollywood that in order to pitch a movie to a jaded exec, you have to phrase it like, YOURFILM = X meets Y. My latest book, “High Desert Run” for example, is the movie FASTER meets DOC HOLLYWOOD . As a fellow author, I’m surethe first instinct you have is to shy away from this because it makes your work sounds formulaic, but I disagree. The audience will take a chance on your work, they just have to be reassured that it isn’t too “out there”. You know what I mean? Ever pick up a book and go “What the heck is the author high on?”

3. Make Your Action Sensible – Trust me, I would love to have an earthquake come along in the second act of my Twelve Angry Men remake, but what is the purpose? Does this advance the story any other way?

 

OK. Let’s say your book is ABOUT an earthquake. Well there, obviously the action of an earthquake makes sense. Through the actions of your story and characters however (#1), you offer a fresh take on the natural disaster work (#2). If you decide on doing a book trailer, you can focus on your character’s  interactions while jiggling the camera instead of hiring a special effects guy for hundreds of dollars to mock up an actual fissure in the earth. Plus the whole thing is risky because the final product could look cheesy, unnecessary and at the end of the day since an earthquake is an inanimate force of nature, nobody is going to sympathize with it.

 

Until next time everyone, keep writing!

 

–Flobo

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