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!
Share it!
"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"

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Anything but an Archetype: Remembering Carolyn Kaufman

One of my favorite writerly endeavors has been writing for the Query Tracker blog.

Carolyn Kaufman
I remember the day I got an email from the blog’s coordinator, Carolyn Kaufman. I knew who she was, being a frequent visitor to the QT forum; I respected her as knowledgeable and generous in her advice to aspiring writers. She posted under the nickname Archetype, a theme that she used throughout her writings on the subject of psychology.

At the time, I was maybe three months into my career as a contracted novelist, nose-deep in editorial work on my first book, head spinning at the thought of establishing myself as the author I’d always dreamed of becoming. Carolyn said she knew me from the forums, that she was familiar with my posts and perspectives, and thought I’d make a good addition to the blog. I was floored. Me? A good addition?

Like so many writers, I doubted myself. I knew that blog. I followed it since the day it made its glorious renaissance. I knew the past bloggers, authors who I’d read on the forum, authors whose work I admired. I’d watched them travel the path to representation and publication and I was sure of one thing: I’d be a poor follow-up to such talented writers.

Carolyn didn’t see it that way.

Knowing it was an honor and too good an opportunity to pass up, I tried to push doubt aside as best I could and I let her talk me into it. I agonized over a suitable topic, then agonized over the writing, and agonized over the editing. I sent my first article to Carolyn for approval, and sweated into the keyboard until she wrote back. She said she loved it. I was flabbergasted. (I still am.)

On September 7, 2011, my first article was published on the Query Tracker blog.

Since then, I’ve written dozens of articles and Publishing Pulses, and each time I agonized whether it would be good enough for the blog. I never wanted to bring down the enterprise I respected most. Carolyn often assured me I never would.

Carolyn did more than encourage me and make me feel like a worthy contributor; she became my friend. We emailed, chatting about our projects and our personal lives. She allowed me to read her WIP, and she was kind enough to offer her fathomless and brilliant advice on mine—my main character is a social worker, so Carolyn and her book have been an inexhaustible reference for me. In fact, I made major alterations to the manuscript because of what I’ve learned from her. It’s made my book better.

She’s made me better.

A mutual friend recently described her as intensely private and all I could think was: not with me. Never with me. Although I never knew the sound of her laugh, or the color of her eyes, or the warmth of her hug, I knew she was truly my friend, always just a note away.

I’ve spent just as much time agonizing over the acknowledgements for that WIP—I wanted to dedicate the book to her and publically thank her for her support and her inspiration. I knew I’d have to keep it as a surprise because she’d never seek the praise. But now I find myself looking over that paragraph, wondering how I can find the strength to delete the word ACKNOWLEDGEMENT and type in the words IN MEMORIAM.

On September 7, 2013, two years from the very day Carolyn posted my first Query Tracker article, she passed away after a brief and unexpected illness.

The world lost a beautiful person and a talented author. We lost a tremendous source of encouragement and inspiration. Many of us lost a dear friend. Tonight I take my comfort in knowing that she left behind a wealth of words, so that we can continue learning and growing and persevering.

That was her gift to the world—her words. And, thanks to them, Carolyn will always be with us.

God rest you, Caro. You can never be forgotten.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

ParaRom/Fantasy Authors: Join the Fall Into Fantasy G!veaway

Paranormal Romance and Fantasy authors...join the Fall Into Fantasy Giveaway this October!
Join over 40 authors of paranormal and fantasy books for a huge giveaway this fall...and FALL INTO FANTASY! This promo opportunity is free to join and will help you expand your readership.
This October dozens of authors are getting together to give away copies of their books and hoards of swag. The giveaway will be promoted through the social networks of each author as well as several kick-ass book blogs.
It's going to be huge!
All you need is a book to share. You can offer either a print or ebook...and, if you'd like to contribute to the swag baskets, that's even better. Everybody likes booty. : ) Participants are required to promote the giveaway any way they can--Facebook, Twitter, blog posts, know the drill, folks.
Ask your favorite book blogs to promote it, too...after all, it's a chance for their readers to win some free books. Who wouldn't like that?
If you are the author of a fantasy or paranormal book who would like to reach new readers, you can sign up for this giveaway by filling out THIS FORM. (Book bloggers can simply email me with an inquiry.)
Sign ups will run until end of September, depending on author response. The giveaway will run the last two weeks of October.
For a sneak peak at the Rafflecopter and the book cover widgets, visit the landing page.
For more information, email me at ashkrafton at Gmail dot com and be sure to put "Fall into Fantasy Giveaway" in the subject.