Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Ideal Book Trailer

The perfect book trailer. Now it's all a matter of taste, or course, but I've seen quite a few on various blogs and on line and it occurs to me that it would be an exciting challenge to make a trailer for my book, Holding Paradise, before it comes out a little later this year.

The idea of a book trailer is fairly new to me. In fact it was only since getting close to publishing that I discovered that such things exist. Of course I've seen trailers on TV for programmes and at the cinema for films. They are such a clever device and, if done right, can bring people you didn't even expect to attract closer to the product you'll eventually produce.

Film trailers are so elaborate, they would be, there's lots of money thrown at them, so they should be all singing and all dancing. But they are a great medium for giving you a real sense of the subject, a taste of what to expect but they certainly don't give everything away. You have to see the film for that!

So, my challenge is - can I pull this book trailer thing off. As I said before, I've seen a few book trailers now and whilst most are obviously done on a budget, there is something to be said for the simple approach.

Here's one I watched today - I don't expect to aspire to this but there is a lot to be learned from it.

It is the book trailer for 'Stanley Kubrick and Me' by Emilio D'Alessandro and it really gave me food for thought.

It is simple, creates atmosphere and intrigue all at the same time. A person opening a box full of memories, griping music and a shot of the author. Brilliant.

As I say, I don't expect mine to be that good. I've done a story board for my trailer and plan to shoot it over the next couple of weeks. I'm on a budget of nothing so need to call in some favours! But please ome back and see how I get on.

If you have any tips or stories behind the making your trailer, I'd love to hear them.

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Sunday, 24 February 2013

What Makes Good Dialogue?

I read a tweet today that said something along the lines of  'so many books, which one to choose?' I suppose all book lovers find themselves in that situation sometimes. As I came to the end of one book I decided to take up the suggestion of one blogger who'd interviewed a writer on her blog. Boy was I disappointed. It was a short book so I thought I'd just power through what I thought was a good enough idea for a story but let itself down on so many points. One of the biggest being dialogue.

It became quite clear that the writer didn't 'know' her characters. She had them saying things that would give anyone pause. If you came in on the middle of some of the conversations I read you would not know what period you were in, who was speaking and what sort of mood they were in. I won't name, names. Who the writer and book are is immaterial. I suppose the point I'm trying to make as a writer is the importance of dialogue and how it can shape your story.

I use it as a device to move my story along, tell you more about a certain character, create an atmosphere or mood at a certain point in a story. It might sound a funny thing to say but dialogue has to say something. I mean it should say something about the genre you are in and convey the right feelings and emotions for the wonderful story you have dreamed up. It is a waste to not think about the power of dialogue if you had a really great story idea.

I felt cheated at the end of the book. A lot of the time, as writers, we read because we want to learn something about the craft. If I took one thing away from that particular book, it's how not to do it. I keep on writing and learning and hope that I'm improving. Time will tell.
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Saturday, 16 February 2013


Let's see, we had Meryl Streep and something to do with a priest. No that's not some crazy dream I had but a film I started watching the other night but got too tired and had to go to bed. The film was called Doubt and that was what my head has been filled with for the past week.

Firstly there was the weekly visit to the new Writers' Workshop I've joined. The idea in general is to read your work and get constructive feedback from the others. I joined so that I could test my recent collection of short stories on some fresh ears. I had positive feedback from my regular two readers but still felt like I needed a wider audience. Of the other eight or so members of the group the feedback veered towards the positive. I was able to look at the piece I read an excerpt from and go back and make some tweaks and have improved the story in my mind. Mostly I feel more confident about what I'd written so that was one thing to check off my Doubt list.
Then there was the question of trying to find an author to read and, hopefully, endorse my novel before publication. I didn't know how to go about it at first and was nervous about approaching someone I didn't know to help me out like that. But I bit the bullet and sent out emails and letters to my most respected authors or their agents. I never expected to hear back from them. I thought, forget it, they'll all be too busy to bother with me. But I did get a response from a couple. (So far). They didn't laugh in my face (or have their agent do it for them). One couldn't help and very kindly and politely said why and one said she would read it but no guarantees of an endorsement. That was a start, at least. I'm still hopeful that something will come out of it. And, hey, if you don't ask you don't get, right?
Lastly was my coming across a short story writing competition which I wanted to enter but only had two days to the deadline! The requirement was a story under 2000 words with a theme to follow. My question was, would I have enough time to produce something that would stand up against all the other entries in such a short space of time. I went ahead and challenged myself. I did seek approval from one of my trusty readers. She loved it. Always an encouraging sign so I've entered away!
As to whether or not I'll get short listed, it really doesn't matter. What matters is that I stopped doubting that I was good enough and just went ahead and tried. It is now my aim to stop worrying, questioning or doubting my ability. I write because I love to create and I can only be me. It is for another person to decide whether they like what I create. I can't control that.
I may improve, I may change how I write but at least it will come from the heart and hopefully it will be enjoyed.
Do you ever have moments when you're not sure about your writing? It's only human right? How do you cope? I'd love to hear from you.
Happy Writing!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


So, my publisher contacted me recently to ask if I had any dedication or acknowledgements for my book. I found writing the acknowledgement difficult. Somehow writing a few words about how thankful I am to the people who got my book to publishing stage just didn't seem enough. Maybe seeing it on a page will help re-iterate what I've already tried to put in words. But the acknowledgement tells everyone else just how special this 'team' has been and how essential. Whilst I know I've had lots of pats on the back and lots of 'you're a good writer' come my way I still feel very much that I was part of a team.

Yes the ideas were all mine and I did have to make the final decision whenever I got any suggestions but it goes to show that producing something like a book can't really be done in a vacuum. (That was a long sentence, one of my readers would have picked that up straight away)!

I didn't have much confidence to start off with when I first started writing. I worried that I couldn't describe well enough, convey the plot, give my characters a voice and that I didn't know that many big words. So I would quake in my boots whenever someone was reading any of my chapters. You can imagine the joy when no-one came back to me saying don't give up the day job.

Sometimes I found writing a bit lonely and it was great to have supportive people to share it with and bounce ideas around. So now it's getting closer and closer to the main event. If the book does well I'll have some fabulous people to help me celebrate but I won't even talk about the other thing. Why be gloomy when there's all this celebration of getting to this stage going on?

I've seen some really, and I mean really long dedications and acknowledgements on books that I've read in my life. What's the longest you've read? You can name names or give a page count.