Monday, September 16, 2013

QueryTracker Blog: The Establishing Shot & Your Novel

Recently I blogged about setting and the novel--specifically, that bit of setting that pinpoints the novel's place in space and time.

I once sat in on a panel at Baltimore Comic Con. (#geekWIN) An artist/writer was discussing the basics for getting one's own comic off the ground, and one of the first thing he'd discussed was setting. The setting should be detailed in the first frame or two. Once we see where the action is to take place, we can zoom in on the action itself.

Later, I realized that what the writer was describing was what film makers call the establishing shot. I also realized how it was a perfect way to approach the writing of setting into a novel.

Here's a bit from that can follow the link to read the whole piece at the Query Tracker blog. Enjoy!

Are you a visual writer?

As you sit and write your novel, do you imagine the action unfolding as clearly as if you were watching a movie?

That’s the kind of writer I am. Images and words are inextricably joined, inseparable until The End. I tend to visualize the action, the characters, the scenes, mulling them over and “watching” them interact and unfold, then take mad notes when I “see” something that works. The notes turn into manuscript pages and the pages into chapters.

Although novel-writing and screenwriting are two completely different animals, I have picked up more than one pointer from the film makers. By far, the most useful tip I’ve taken is the use of the establishing shot.

In film, the establishing shot is the opening shot that sets the scene—the location, the time, the spatial relationship between characters, even the concept of the story. Traditionally, this was accomplished through the use of a longshot or extreme longshot, although today’s film makers often skip it in order to get right into the action to establish a quicker pace.

Think about how many times we are chided to start in media res—in the middle of things—so that our first pages hook the reader. Those first 250 words are crucial if we want to catch the attention of an agent or editor. We can’t let readers fall asleep on the first page, can we?

However, that doesn’t mean there is no longer a place for an “establishing shot” in our books. You don’t need a lengthy scene set up to run as long as opening credits to an eighties romantic comedy but you do need a way to anchor the reader in each scene in order for them to become submerged in the story. Even in the case of the more modern action opener, the reader gets a strong sense of who and where when you establish the scene....

Read more at the Query Tracker Blog!
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"Create the scene before diving into action or dialog using an establishing shot"
"Anchor your reader in each scene in order for them to become submerged in the story"

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