Friday, July 19, 2019

The super crazy last chapter 😜

Don't let the last chapter fall flat; make it a wild ride till the end.

The problem that I noticed (while reading fiction) is that it often has a predictable pattern. The story usually builds up to a climax eventually resolving, only to fade away in the final chapter. I find the last chapter in a lot of books is simply tying up loose ends and for that reason, I often skim through then read the last paragraph. It would be the same as watching a season of your favorite television show and having no drama or action in the final episode but just the characters sitting around having a chat and hugging a lot.

Something that I've learned along the way is that you need action, suspense, and surprises even as the book winds down. And yes, that includes the last chapter. Contrary to whatever your high school creative writing teacher taught you, finishing a book shouldn't simply be about tying a pretty bow on it.

In my current series, I try to keep things crazy right till the end. I've finished books with shootouts and suspense but probably most importantly, I've left a lot of questions hanging in the wind. There's always an implication that something more is always around the corner. I want readers to finish my books and wonder about the characters. I want to set their imaginations on fire. And to me, that's the most important aspect of all.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Choosing the right words πŸ€“

Words create an impression with the reader, whether it is the narrative or the specific wording that a character uses. It's always important to consider the character, environment and the mood involved when choosing your words.

In my Hernandez series, I'm very aware of the words I choose when setting a scene and especially in dialogue. Since the book is about bloodthirsty criminals, it only makes sense that the words surrounding them represent that very mood. Powerful words are essential right from the first paragraph and it's important that the protagonist sets the tone for the reader. We need to get a feel for the personality that is about to take us on a journey so we can be prepared for the adventure we're about to embark on.

It's not uncommon for me to go back and change the wording either dialogue or the general story simply because I feel there's a better way to communicate to the reader. Having said that, I don't think writers need to overthink words and become too analytical. Perfection isn't a requirement.

It's also important to consider what is appropriate for your reader. What age group are you writing for? Who's your audience? What kind of feeling do you want to leave readers with? A book that falls under the suspense genre would read differently than one that is a romance novel.

Also, what is the character's background? Educational level? Where do they come from? The dialogue varies, depending on where you live, what actually is your first language and as I mentioned earlier, your age.

If you're new to writing, don't let this intimidate you. You can always go back and change the words later. Regarding characters, the more you get to know them, the easier it is to automatically know the dialogue they would use (think of people you know well and how you come to be familiar with their dialogue patterns)

Remember, when writing a book, essay or article, words are all you have to work with so make them count.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Writing a pilot episode based on my book series πŸ€©πŸ“ΊπŸ‘

Why does your favorite book seem so jumbled when it's turned into a movie or television show? Now that I'm writing a pilot episode, I'm starting to understand why things play differently on screen than pages.

When I first started to write the pilot episode for my book series about Jorge Hernandez and his foot soldiers, I was a tad overwhelmed. I had no idea where to start. I briefly considered taking a screenwriting course but the cost to learn this skill seemed a bit insane so I decided instead to look online to see what was available for free or, at at the very least, a more reasonable price. The first person I found was a lovely lady called Word Dancer (who I highly recommend to all writers regardless of their goals) who answered anything I could possibly ask regarding writing a script and getting into the film business. I literally watched every one of her videos and soaked it all in.

The best piece of advice from Word Dancer (although, there was freakin' tons of great information!) was if you want to write scripts, start off by reading scripts. I followed this advice and quickly found the pilot episode for some of my favorite shows including Ray Donovan, The Sopranos, Six Feet UnderThe Ozarks, Narcos, Dexter, and Sons of Anarchy. I studied them carefully, noting the formats while considering the advice in Word Dancer's videos. I made a lot of notes and then jumped in to start my script!

The first thing I noticed what that the pilot episodes requires a lot of from the writer. You need to capture and captivate immediately. You need to introduce your protagonist and give a strong sense of who he/she is, showing all dimensions. You need to have a lot going on so the viewer doesn't get bored. You need to have a unique voice so you aren't simply copying everything else out there (this includes dialogue). You have to demonstrate what kind of show it is so the audience knows what to expect. In essence, you need to grab the viewer by the throat and make them want more.

Since the pilot would start with my book, The Devil is Smooth Like Honey, it meant that the first scene would take place in a hotel. However, this concerned me because I thought this would stick the characters in the same place too long and I felt they needed to be in motion in order to keep things more lively and build up anticipation. In the book, Jorge meets Paige NoΓ«l in a provocative way and the chemistry builds between them through the pages. However, I felt they needed to move around in the pilot, so I had Jorge's attempt to seduce Paige when she suddenly has to leave to carry out an assassination that had to be done that night. In the book, I kind of feel this would've been too much too soon considering Paige was a new character in the series and it wouldn't give time to properly learn about her, however, in a television show, you would learn about her through her actions in each scene so this enabled me to demonstrate her strong, powerful side whereas, in the book, I would use Jorge's observations and conversation to do the same.

It's almost like in a television show or movie, you have to go to greater lengths to drive the point home. You can't be subtle but more like a bull in a china shop. You have to be a little louder, a little more forceful, a little more dramatic and a little more exaggerated. Why? Because it's captivating. It creates anticipation and excitement.

Of course, film and TV are known to cut out a lot from books they are based on, which I can already see I will be doing too. Now that I'm learning about the process, I think it's mainly because of time and budget restraints and also because certain scenes may fall flat on the screen. Also, in a book, you tend to tell the story more than on a show, where you're showing it.

Having said that, I do believe that a movie or television show based on a book should stick very closely to the novel or it simply pisses people off. I can think of one particular movie I watched (after reading the book) that infuriated me. A major, dramatic point in the book was completely changed in the movie, causing me to throw my hands up in the air with a major 'What the fuck!' moment. I know that a lot of factors play into movies (including who funds them) so I can imagine the script went through a lot of hands before coming to fruition.

I still have a lot to learn in this process so this is to be continued.....

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Why do you always write about criminals? πŸ”ͺ

One of my most asked questions is why I write about criminals. For those not familiar with my books, this inquiry springs from the fact that the majority of my books are based on the criminal POV rather than the more socially acceptable, commonly used perspective of the detective, lawyer or, in other words, the 'good guy'. Essentially, what I'm saying is that I prefer to write about the 'bad guy' or more the anti-hero type characters.

To be honest, it started innocently enough. In fact, this was the series that was never meant to be a series, starting with a book called We're All Animals. In it, I explored a character named Chase Jacobs and his coming of age problems that led him down a dark path that linked up with the people he now refers to as his associates.  Of course, it had to be introduced slowly, carefully and in such a way that showed how people could find themselves in this world even if it was never their intention.

I love writing from an alternate POV rather than the more common ones used in books. It's interesting to explore a character that is normally viewed from a third-person perspective, instead, showing all the dimensions and exploring the many layers. It's very easy to just throw everybody into a simplified category but it takes a little more effort to consider where that person came from, what their experiences have been and what drives them. People are vastly more complicated than some writers would have you believe.

There's also something invigorating about sinister characters. It can be quite addictive and fascinating to write about them. It allows my imagination to go to all kinds of dark places that you simply can't explore with a primarily law-abiding and 'good' characters. And if you do, it becomes the central theme of the book rather than a component. For example, if a 'good' character kills another character, it becomes the plot, with the protagonist attempting to understand and justify their behavior. If a 'bad' guy kills someone, it's not such a shock and just becomes another event in the book.

And at the end of the day, when you're a writer, shouldn't you be searching for different scenarios, alternate voices and most importantly, intriguing storylines that aren't following the same, tired format?