Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Where IS the Power, Really?


As I frequently do between 3 and 4 AM, I found myself running lines of prose through my semi-lucid brain, watching them come and go serially one after the other. Normally that’s not enough to keep me awake. I just let them go, until I start stringing them together into concepts. Then I reach the point where I have to get out of bed and fire up the laptop.

I spent the better part of the last two weekends producing a new trailer for CHAIN OF EVIDENCE, although I did manage to slice out a bit of time for little ghosts & goblins prowling the neighborhood last Saturday night. The old trailer was okay, but it didn’t have the pop I thought it should. Then I had the idea to produce a trailer that was more along the lines of a commercial; you know, like those you hear promoting Patterson or King’s new novel booming from the car’s speakers, by an announcer with a deep voice accompanied by a riveting dramatic score. 

Yeah … that'll cost.
I can hear the cash register now.
Cha-Ching!

There’s a ton of royalty-free material on the internet ranging from music to photos to videos, and even if some cost a few bucks, the prices are not prohibitive; so why run radio commercials when social media is free for the most part. I have an okay voice; at least Maggie says I do—says it’s sexy. I don’t know about all that, but what I hear in my head compared to what I hear on a recording are two different voices. However, I found that early in the morning my voice is a bit deeper, so I decided to get up before everyone else, when the house was quiet, and do the whole thing myself. 

But I digress.

I decided to use the first scene from the book. I found a two-minute dramatic score that I could match to the cadence of the writing, and breaking the sound bites into smaller, more manageable “clips” worked out well, but I found I had to edit the prose to make it really pop! There’s nothing like a little editing to reveal a better way to write a line or two of prose.

I’ve been working with an editor on my current effort, and he pointed something out that just made all the difference regarding the power of the written word, that intangible element that keeps readers turning pages, something every writer strives for. And it’s so simple.

Writers tend to write the way they talk to some degree. When we tell a story to a group of friends, we list all the elements, and then summarize for their benefit, just to insure they get the gist of the story. He pointed out that I do the same thing when I write.

I offer it here.

The Example:
I made my way to the exit and listened for the sounds that I expected to hear. Frantic cries for help among a cacophony of confusion. And when I heard them, I turned to look as anyone might. I watched the bouncers push through the crowd, saw them knock people aside as they rushed to her. And among the music and the screaming, the dancing and the panic, I knew what the bouncers did not. I knew she was dead before she hit the floor.

Now remove the last, summarizing, sentence:
I made my way to the exit and listened for the sounds that I expected to hear. Frantic cries for help among a cacophony of confusion. And when I heard them, I turned to look as anyone might. I watched the bouncers push through the crowd, saw them knock people aside as they rushed to her. And among the music and the screaming, the dancing and the panic, I knew what the bouncers did not.

THIS … is where the power is.

In the first example, the antagonist is telling the reader that he knows what the bouncers do not. At this point, the reader doesn't know either, but then, the writer (me) blows it and lets the reader in on it, destroying the tension the passage has built. Curiosity lost. Ho-hum … where’s my bookmark?

It’s a cool line ‘n all, but it kills the edge-of-your-seat mood. Maybe the reader turns the page, maybe he doesn’t. Maybe he inserts a book mark and goes to bed, and that’s tragic for a thriller writer.

So, I removed that line from the trailer, and if I decide to publish a next edition, I’ll remove it from the novel as well.

I’d love to know what you think of the trailer. 
Drop me a line at db_corey@hotmail.com, or just leave a comment. 
I like those too.

Best Regards,
DB

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