How I kept ‘The Pussers Cook Book’ high on Amazon rankings.

p1

Okay, so this is a post about marketing books, or rather it is a post about one of my books that sold particularly well. (At least in the first few weeks after publication).

I am NOT a marketing guru. I have no special formula and am not trying to sell you anything, get you to subscribe, donate, join a club or even buy the book in question… or any of my books… but you can if you wish!

I am uncertain if my book would not have performed as well if I had done absolutely nothing, if I published, sat back and waited. (Although I doubt it)

The reason I am writing this post is to share with you, (my Indie author friends and colleagues), the history of first few weeks of my books performance on the Amazon sales platform.

I hope you can take something, even one small factor from this and use it to enhance your own sales, or at least gain further insight into what makes books sell. Or not!

To understand and to place the following information into context I need to explain how the book came into being and the lead up to release. So, I’ll take the Advice of Winnie the Pooh and start at the beginning; as “That’s a very good place to start”.

The Book in question is The Pussers Cook Book.  The Amazon hyperlink is https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pussers-Cook-Book-Traditional-recipes/dp/1544690584 if you want to take a look, or get a copy (hint hint).

The Pussers Cook Book contains twenty-two recipes of traditional dishes served in the Royal Navy during the 1960’s to the 1980’s. Apart from the recipes, it contains a factual historical information and social comment, written in a witty and humorous style.

The book is listed under this Amazon category: Books > Food & Drink > Reference & Gastronomy > History of Food. (It is currently ranked No.3 as I write this).

The creation of this book came about after many conversations with other veterans. Most hold the food they ate during service in some esteem, some higher than others! What was clear among all personnel was the huge part food and dining played in keeping moral and spirits high during deployments.

With that in mind, I started to search for a cook book containing some ‘Good old British Naval recipes’ and came up with absolute zilch, zero, nada.

There are American forces cook books, Royal Australian Naval recipes, South African, Indian, but I could not find a single book which recorded any Royal Navy dish.

This is where it all starts!

So… I asked in several forces forums who would be interested in such a book, who would share stories and memories of food and dining from their time in the service. The response was substantial and led me to believe there was a market, an audience for such.

I had found a niche, a ‘gap in the market’ so to speak.

A few months later I had compiled and written The Pussers Cook Book.

Now for the nitty gritty about the promotion.


PLANNING.

As I have said above, I spoke to a quantity of people about creating a Naval recipes book and kept the contact details of those who expressed a solid interest in such a book.

Once I was ready to release The Pussers Cook Book, I posted a string of ‘Coming soon’ social media announcements to the groups I identified as being the books prime market, ie Royal Navy/ex royal navy/military/FAA/RFA/ex Forces/Veterans sites.

Many which I had joined since conception of the book in readiness for its launch. This gave me time to build a good, solid reputation and establish myself as a known, trusted and active member of these groups. You may consider this rather mercenary, but I see it as good business sense.

This type of planning and foresight takes a lot of time, work and effort. But once you are accepted, initiated and integrated, the fact that you an established part of a close, sometimes closed network, will pay dividends in many future endeavours.

It is a commitment I think is worth the time and energy needed to sustain the relationship.

The second part of my advanced planning was to design some posters and flyers, and the preparation of initial of blogs needed to spread my message, in a colourful and eye catching way, when posted on social media.

The next was ensuring that my book is listed with ‘book sites’ such as Goodreads, Authors Den, Authorsdb, Promocave etc. And, of course listed on my own website.

Added to this is obtaining listing on other sites servicing my targeted market. In this case, military historical sites and archives, military book, gift and paraphernalia stores, Naval museums. In fact, anywhere that has a library, store, shop, or service which does, or could list books or carry a link. Not forgetting any of their private forums, even those with fifty or sixty members…I would be happy with 1% sales from these.

Once again this is time consuming and often boring, but it is getting all your duck in order before taking the plunge.

Once all these items were in place, I was ready to promote the book.

Before the next step, the launch, I must explain that I made The Pussers Cook Book in two formats, a Hardcover version and a paperback.

This post is ONLY concerned with the PAPERBACK version as this is the only format available via CreateSpace/Amazon.

It may also help to know that it is a 6×9, full colour, fully illustrated book. (hence the price)


LAUNCH.

I decided that a ‘soft launch‘ of The Pussers Cook Book was most appropriate, as this book is targeted at a niche market, a major launch, such as a Thunderclap or Facebook party would have been irrelevant and had little effect on the initial ‘reveal‘.

The launch therefore consisted of a major blitz on as many social media groups as possible, over as many platforms as possible. In this case it was Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, twitter, Tumblr, Ello, Yeopen, StumbleUpon, Flipboard, Pinterest, WordPress, Blogger and so on.

Along with all those private sites and forums directed at Military and ex-military personnel I mentioned before.

The first day or two the book was only available from CreateSpace, as it takes a day or two to appear on Amazon sites.

If you look at the beginning of the sales chart, the launch date of the 17th of March, (it was late at night, so the figures show as/from the 18th), you will see that sales were instantly quite good. It looked like all that planning, all the time effort and the brainstorming had paid off.

Until… March the 21st when it all died off!

I still have no idea why this was, perhaps it was something to do with the listings on Amazon becoming live?


PROMOTION

Like everything concerned with being an Indie author it takes work, hard work and lots of it.

Pushing your sales is just one of the areas that you must concentrate your efforts. This is what I have done so far in relation to The Pussers Cook Book.

On the 26th of March I saw the sales figure slow for the first time.

I was ready for this. I had a plan, well it was more of an idea which I formulated after reading several various, (unrelated) articles about books, business, SEO, other authors, and a host of topics I cannot recall!

My plan was to try and push the name, the title of my book to the front of the search lists on the prime search engines algorithms.

Now, most probably you know little about how ‘SEO’ works. You are not alone, neither do I!

BUT I had gleaned a basic understanding, or at least an understanding of the logic behind the principle of how SEO functions. It was with that limited knowledge that I made my next move.

I sent a post asking people to ‘google’ my book by name on whatever search bar they were using, Google, Yahoo, Bing, Edge…whatever.

I did this with emails to other contacts around the world, and on all social platforms and forums. I asked my son, cousin and friends to do the same, to share and re-post the request, and to ask others to do the same.

I was trying to drive the search for ‘The Pussers Cook Book‘ or The Pussers cookbook’ etc. as viral as I could.

It worked.

Within 24hrs The Pussers Cook Book was showing as the top 6 to 8 listings on most searches, eventually making it to the top 10 lists on about every search engine.

The chart shows a boost of sale from that date. I like to consider this a direct consequence of that SEO attack…but again, I have no control specimen to compare effect.

It could simply be a coincidence?

On May the 30th I saw the trend of sales slipping, so I gave the book another boost by simple advertising, posting updated posters and status’s on social media.

April the 4th I noticed the figures dip once again. This time my marketing effort was aimed at the sites I term non-prime. These are the sites that are peripheral to major networks, or adjacent in content and demographics, to the mainstream platforms, but still play a key role in my marketing strategy.

Such sites, I am sure, will differ greatly from person to person and book to book. Much of regarding any site as such is whole subjective.

April the 8th I am have convinced myself, The Pussers Cook Book has run its natural course of being an Amazon bestseller for an Indie author. This is, no doubt the start of the natural decline in sales.

With a hurriedly conceiver promotion, using Easter as a gimmick, “Last chance to get/gift a copy before Easter…etc, blah, blah…” I hope to squeeze out a few more sales and try to keep The Pussers Cook Book as high in the charts for as long as possible.

The reason is, the higher a book’s ranking, the more visibility it is given by Amazon. The more it can be seen the higher the likelihood of getting an extra sale, or three.

If these sales keep the book up in the ranking, the more it will been seen…..& so on. As the sales decrease so does a books appearance. The alternative is to spend a fortune on paid advertising with amazon and Facebook etc.

So, as much self-promotion and marketing you can do without giving the ‘big boys’ a fortune the better it is.

Remember, whatever you spend on, say an Amazon advert, is the amount you must earn in royalties from Amazon, BEFORE you start making any money. All the while, on each sale you do make, Amazon will still be taking their cut. Think about it.

It is now, as I write the 13th of April, 27 days, a month – all bar the shouting – The Pussers Cook Book has been at the top, not bad for an unknown Indie author.

I shall do another marketing blitz over the next day or two. In fact, even this post is part of my overall marketing plan. It has raised awareness of the book, which you will notice I have repeatedly given its full title of ‘The Pussers Cook Book’ throughout this blog post. Hinted that you should at least Google it, if not get yourself a copy (another hint).

What I am trying to convey is, never miss an opportunity…you never know where it might lead.

I do hope that by sharing this with you, you can take something constructive or reassuring from it. Even something that makes it worth getting yourself a copy of this book, or any of my fictional works, as a thank you?

I know sales will now slow. It is inevitable. Yet, I do hope the book will ‘tick over’ for the foreseeable future.

For now, I have four ‘Works in progress’ I must complete; you never know one of these may be my next best seller?paul-white

Here’s hoping.

Paul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A question from a faded memory.

My posts are usually based on an idea or theme I have been mulling over for some time. Yet, when I write, I like to let my words ‘Ramble‘ onto the page.

Hence the title of this blog.

Today’s post is one which stems from contemplations which were running amok inside my head at bedtime last night… (read, ‘the early hours of this morning!‘)

It is not the first time I have considered the subject and one, I am sure, you have paid heed to in the past.

It is one of life, or rather death. But not in the regular way we may think on such a topic.

I shall start by sharing a faded memory.

Some time ago a read an article; by whom or in what magazine or book I forget. You see, it was not where the article was, or who the author might be that was important, it was the content.

It gave me food for thought. Thoughts I am writing about here, years later.

The article suggested we can conceive life, human life, without our own being part of it. Such as historical events or even the future.

We all know that in fifty, seventy, a hundred years from now we, as individuals will not be here. In short, we will have died.

Our own mortality is something we learn to accept. We live with the fact that at any moment, any one of us could expire. Such is life.

It is also not so hard to understand life without entire groups of people. We have read in a newspaper, or seen on the television, reports of families and even whole communities being killed by accidents; motorway pile-ups, air crashes, ships sinking, or natural disasters like tsunami, earthquakes, and forest fires.

We have come to accept these events as part of our life on Earth.

IMG_4424

So, to think of life, to think of the world carrying on without those, or without us, should we ever be unfortunate enough to be caught in such a situation, is not beyond most people’s grasp.

This is where the article asked the reader, me in this instance, to take some time to contemplate and consider the next question.

I shall now ask the same of you. Whatever your initial response or thoughts may be, spend some more time, a day, a week, several years, returning and re-evaluating your answer.

… Ponder life on earth without humanity, without a single human being.

Not the past, not before our race evolved, because that gives a false perspective. We know Homo-Sapiens came into being.

But think of a future world without our presence. How would the world look, how would the future be?

Now think of yourself as the final living human. Would you write a diary, an account of your life on earth?

images

Why? Who would read it…not another human. No living entity that could understand those little black marks scribbled across sheets of paper. Nothing which could make head-nor-tail of the strange sounds you utter.

Pictures, paintings, art, recordings… all pathetically useless and irrelevant. They would never mean anything…ever…at all…to anything.

Then the Sun explodes and annihilates the earth, the entire solar system.

That is shortly before Andromeda collides with the Milky-Way. The two galaxies’…the immovable object and the irresistible force.

Take time to consider the universe then…without a single trace of our solar system, of Earth, that human life, or any life, ever existed.

10-whathappensw

Would you, as the last human want to leave a trace of our passing, however pitifully futile you knew that to be… Why?

Now, as a writer I find myself retuning to wonder what our world would genuinely be like without ‘us’. Let alone thinking about the aftermath of the destruction of two entire solar systems.

The philosophers among you may adhere to certain schools of thought… or not.

I for one have many ideas, none of which I can truly convince myself is correct.

Now, I don’t expect you to answer this question too quickly. Take your time as I have.

Which has been about twenty years, so far!

.

Enjoy your day, Paul.

Did you know I also have a blog where I post the occasional short story? You are welcome to read them all, they are right here at… https://alittlemorefiction.wordpress.com

J.B.’Author Interview with Paul White

 

IN THIS BRAND NEW SERIES (J.B.’S AUTHOR INTERVIEW SERIES) I’LL BE INTRODUCING YOU TO SOME OF THE FINEST AUTHORS AROUND. YOU’LL GET A PEEK INSIDE THEIR MIND AND THEIR PROCESS.

 

File2

Today I meet Paul White. 

J.B. Taylor – What inspires you?

Paul White – Wow, what an interesting opening question. There are so many things that kick start my imagination. A picture, a smell, a sound, a partly overheard conversation, clips from a film, a scene from a television drama.
One of my favorite sources is the radio, I listen to Radio four, a BBC station it has wonderful interviews covering a myriad of topics from the arts to medicine and world affairs. I often listen to this station when I am driving and, besides the road, there is nothing else to distract you from listening. It is surprising how many ideas can come out of a twenty minute drive!

 

J.B. Taylor – What’s your favorite book?

Paul White – Another unanswerable question! I have so many books I love and all for different reasons.
I will give you two. I read both when I was a young man and both have stayed with me over the ensuing years, so I take that resonation to be a sign that they are special books.

The first is ‘Down by the Dockside’ written by Deirdre Cash under her pseudonym Criena Rohan. It is about a plucky, literate girl who grows up in poverty in Port Melbourne during the Depression, marries a sailor during the war and loses him in a fight at Christmas in 1946, teaches dance and consorts with the criminals her childhood pals have become, it’s a lively and endearing tale of Australia in the 1930s and 1940s.

The second is Do Not Go Gentle by David MacCuish.
The book focuses on Norman MacLeod, growing up in the tough Depression-era town of Butte, Montana.
After his father succumbs to a mining-related disease, young Norman leaves school and also begins working in the copper mines. Following the death of his closest friend in a mine accident and the moving of his mother and sister to relatives back East, Norman enlists in the Marines.
The book follows MacLeod through boot camp, life on and off base, and then to the South Pacific where MacLeod and his fellow Marines face both their fears and the Japanese.
On leave in the U.S., Norm visits the wife of a killed comrade, and begins a relationship with her. Filled with gritty scenes and no-holds-barred dialog,
I think Do Not Go Gentle is a minor classic in the field of novels about men at war and the effect it has on families and communities.

Ok, so that was longwinded, but you asked!

 

J.B. Taylor – If you were asked to unload a 747 full of jelly beans, what would you do?

Paul White – Park it up and slowly eat my way through the contents!

 

J.B. Taylor – Where do you like to write?

Paul White – Anywhere I can get my head down and concentrate without too many interruptions. I have an office at home, but a café, hotel lobby or gardens can be good too.

 

J.B. Taylor – Which Harry Potter house would you belong to?

Paul White – Never read Harry Potter, not seen the films either…am I the only one?

 

J.B. Taylor – What is your favorite word?

Paul White – That changes frequently, however at the moment it is however. However, that may change soon!

 

J.B. Taylor – What is your least favorite word?

Paul White – Hate. It is overused in general conversation and rarely is its true definition realized by the speaker. In writing however, (did you see what I just did there!) there are no bad words, just words.

 

J.B. Taylor – What was the first story you ever wrote, and what happened to that story?MiriamsHexL

Paul White – My first true story, a proper one with a beginning, middle & end, is Miriam’s
Hex
. There is a long back story about how I have come to resurrect Miriam’s Hex from a dusty box in the loft and have published it as an eBook novelette.

 

Miriam's Hex new

The story of how that happened is included in a special edition of Miriam’s Hex, which is ONLY available directly from me…if you like would a copy just click on the link above!

 

 

J.B. Taylor – Tell us about your process: Pen, paper, word processor, human sacrifice … how do you write?

Paul White – Generally, I use a PC or Laptop and type directly into a word document.
But for making notes and writing ideas down I scribble into small pocket sized notebooks. I have several of these scattered about the house, the cars and in lots of jacket pockets.
Occasionally a notebook has been washed and tumble dried. Not good!

 

J.B. Taylor – What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a writer?

Paul White – Besides becoming a writer!

Paul White – Rushing out a book with over excitement and thinking that was it. You soon learn to take more care, get it edited correctly, re-write and tweak. Over and again if necessary. Doing things right pays dividends in the end.

 

J.B. Taylor – What else are you working on?

Paul White – I have a number of projects. There are three main ones. One of those I need to complete before…two of them I need to complete…in fact all three need to be completed before the others!

But…let me highlight the novel I am working on. It is called ‘Floyd’.

FLOYD6finalfrntjpg

Floyd is an escaped psychopath, a fugitive out on a mission of vengeance, against all those who were involved in having committed.
It is a thriller/slasher/ blood and gore story, BUT with human and emotional elements woven in between the main events, rather like sutures pulling a wound closed!

 

J.B. Taylor – In a perfect world where you could cast your book for a movie, who would you pick for your main characters?

95396d79a513881bd93707fb415a9ea2

Paul White – I would love one of my books to become a movie, or my short stories a TV drama series, what a nice dream.
In that ideal world, I would love to use unknown people, maybe ones who have never acted before. Members of the public like you and I.
Imagine walking up to someone in the street, who catches your eye and asking if they would like the leading role in a new Hollywood or Pinewood movie! Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

 

J.B. Taylor – When you complete a story, do you let it go? Or do you like to stop and think about what your characters might be up to, what they might be doing?

Paul White – I used to just let it go, put it to bed as they say. (Whomever ‘they’ are?)
But now I leave it for a while, weeks, maybe a month or two. Then I return and read the work, making critical notes. That’s when the real nitty-gritty work starts.

 

J.B. Taylor – Are you a panster or an outliner?

Paul White – Oh, most definitely a panster! I write from the heart, from gut feelings with only the roughest skeleton of a premise. The story and the characters evolve with me, sometimes in spite of me, as the book progresses.

It is not until I am half, or more of the way through, do I lay out some formal course to the conclusion and, I only do that, because the second half of a book is far harder to write than the first.

Maybe I should write the end before the start next time around. Do you think that might work?


You can check out Paul’s books HERE

or, if you want to know more about the author, visit his website HERE 

 

 

It’s not just, “In God We Trust”.

ingodwetrust_note

 Here is something that has crossed my mind recently (on several occasions).

TRUST.

So much can be read into that single word, can it not?

Honestly, how many people do you actually trust?

It would be passé for me to ask who you would trust with your life.

Firstly, because that could take so many forms; from combat, to saving you choking on a chicken bone and because we trust people with our lives each and every day.

When you fly you are trusting the pilot, when you take a cab you are trusting the driver; there are doctors, surgeons, police and such like; so in the grand scheme of things trusting someone with your life is not so alien, in fact it is most common.

But let me ask you this:

Who would you lend your last few dollars to?

I mean your last dollars; the money you depend on; the money you need to live by. Who would you trust to repay that money on time?

Who would you let house sit, or house swap with you? Who would you trust not to pry into your private closets, or rummage through your underwear drawer?

To whom would you show your browsing history, or private files, without the fear of being judged?

I guess you could count those people on one hand?

Maybe I am wrong; maybe you are lucky. Or maybe you have more fingers on your hand than I do!

Okay, so trust can be considered on many levels, I agree.

But I have a feeling that you may trust someone you have not met, or have never seen, a little less than you might trust your neighbor, or a work colleague, even an acquaintance; you know, one of those people who are almost your friend!

Am I right?

Generally, I think I am.

Which brings me here, to the point of this rambling.

I often ask people, complete and total strangers to trust me every day. I ask many of them for money, in return for promises.

Why?

Because I offer some services. You see, apart from being a writer and an author, I design books covers, I have an online magazine and a book promotion site.

When it comes to designing covers I promise I shall do my best to create an eye-catching cover, one that will attract people to take a look, to ‘pick the book up and investigate’. Initially I only have my word to give.

I rely on a person’s trust.

The same is true of my magazine.

People buy features and advertising, often two or three months in advance. They are trusting me to produce the magazine, to distribute it, to hold up my end of the bargain.

On my book promotion website, the trust is, that I will provide information as promised, list books as agreed, market the site and so on.

I know I am honest. I know I will do everything within my abilities to ensure I deliver, to keep my promises. Yet many of those who place their trust in me do not know that, not initially, not the first time we make an agreement.

Luckily, I have a track record of successfully completing the tasks I undertake.

I have lots of happy clients and that, in a strange way, turns the tables. You see, once I have done business with someone, once I have done ‘a good job’, I trust them to return to me. I trust that they shall, at some point in the future ask me to help again.

Thankfully, most do.

Now that may, at this point, sound like standard business practice. But what makes all this stand-out for me is, that most of what I do is with people who are, in the physical world, (the Meat-Space), strangers.

I may belong to the same social media ‘groups’ as they. I may have ‘messaged’ or emailed them many times, over many months or even years. I may know (vaguely) what they look like, at least in the best photograph they have, even if it was taken twenty-years ago!

BUT…I have never met them, never heard their voice naturally, or felt their flesh, smelt their scent, seen how they walk, talk and laugh, not in the real world. Yet some I consider to be friends, not the i-space, ethereal electronic type of friend, but Friend with a capitol ‘F’.

And I trust them.

As, (hopefully!), they do me.

Please, do not deceive yourself by thinking that I am a product of this technological age. I am not.

I am far older than that. But I accept it, even somewhat embrace it; although with a certain amount of mistrust and caution as to its future influence and where it may eventually lead us.

But a little vigilance is no bad thing.

So, here I am, connected tentively to un-met people around the globe, via fiber-optics and satellites, yet conducting business on less than a physical handshake; often simply on a few keystrokes that spell out the word ‘Yes’, or even the lesser ‘OK’.

I suggest that is a form of true trust?

If it is, then in my world that is not a bad thing.

If something that can be isolating, even as divisive as the internet, can bring ‘people who have never met’ (we used to term this as ‘strangers’ when I was a child), together by the bond of trust my fear for the future of mankind is somewhat diminished.

All we need now is for those who in power to take note, for those who print ‘In God We Trust’ on our banknotes to realise that, in an ideal world those words would actually read ‘In Us We Trust’.

Just a thought that was running through my mind.

 

Please feel free to comment, like, share or ‘whatever blows your frock-up’

Paul

Find out more about me, my writings, books & Cover design 

http://paulznewpostbox.wix.com/paul-white

Visit CQ Magazine CQ2

Go to SNEAK PEEK Books & Authors site large button

 

 

 

 

 

How to write better by watching more movies!

95396d79a513881bd93707fb415a9ea2

 I for one love to read ‘the book’ rather than watch ‘the movie’. The reason is, I want to let my own imagination create the world the book has drawn me into.

I want ‘that’ character to evolve as I see him or her; guided by the authors words, yes. But not have it forced upon me, not illustrated in such detail there is no room for my mind to fashion form.

There is no choice in this aspect when watching a film. A film shows you the actresses face and how the character’s voice sounds.

There is little left for the imagination.

Yet, I have formed some of my writing techniques from watching movies. Well, not just movies but TV dramas, plays, even commercials. Almost anything in fact that has moving images.

You may think that I am contradicting myself by making what seems, at least on a superficial level, contradictory statements.

So I shall, in my normal ‘Rambling’ way try to convey exactly how watching moving images has enabled me to hone my skill as a writer of words.

 It is mostly to do with the editing, a little to do with camera work and a bit to do with stealing the director’s viewpoint!

However, before I can start on that, I must tell you that when I am watching a film or TV with a ‘writers eye,’ it is not the same as watching for enjoyment or pleasure. Even if sometimes I cannot help but notice things when I have no intention of thinking about writing. (But that is my cross to bear, not yours. At least not yet, not until you have finished reading this!)

 

Ok. The Directors viewpoint. This is probably the most obvious, yet the least important aspect.

Imagine the opening shot of a film scene.

–The camera slowly pans across a room, it is dull. Dust mots hang in the air, highlighted by two shafts of light, beaming downwards through a window. As the camera pans the_room_is_dark_and_empty____just_like_me_by_potpoorri-d5pvf7b.pngtowards the window a small figure of a girl, a young girl wearing a white cotton nightdress, is revealed. —

This is gold dust to me.

That scene, altered to suit my style and the storyline I am writing, can be used. NO…this is not plagiarism. I would not copy it, but use it as a base to create my own, dull room in which I would reveal a figure.

My room could be a log cabin, a large warehouse or a submarine. The light source may be from a fireplace, daylight filtering through a damaged roof or the‘red’ lighting used on a submarines bridge.

The figure may be an old man, a dead body lying on the cold concrete floor or a ghostly specter of an old sailor.

BUT….all this has come to me from watching that opening shot of the movie; seeing it, not from the ‘viewer’s’ eyes, but from the directors. Having an understanding of the mood he was trying to create and how the darkness, light and slow reveal assisted him in doing so.

All that is left for me is to translate that into words, imagining it over and over as I write so that the ambiance and timing is cohesive to the reader.

 

Secondly. Camera work.

While the above scene clearly needed the aid of a camera to record the Directors instructions, all of the actual imagery in a film is down to how things enter the lens. Yes, some of this is to do with lighting and the type of film used, but here I am speaking of the camera alone.

Firstly, the angle, the position of the camera to its subject. Not forgetting its height. Generally, a low shot, ground level, is used to enhance the perception of speed. Think about car racing or chases. How the tyres almost run over the lens or rock the camera as the vehicles flash past. (Yes, depth of field and all that matters, but that is not important here).

4240A high shot, from a boom, tall building, a crane or airship looking down on the subjects can give expression of vastness, loneliness or being lost.

Next time you go to the movies take note of where the camera is situated to get ‘the shot’. I do and that enables me to hold that moment, that feeling of vastness or loneliness, in my mind while I write my next paragraph.

Reading it back to myself, if it does not evoke the same feelings, if it does not conjure the right imagery as my recall of the films scene, then I will re-write, over and over, until I get it right.

 

Lastly, but for me, the most important is the Editing.

I cannot help myself with this! When I have my ‘writers head’ on I am constantly, without any self-control watching for all the ‘cuts’ more than whatever I am viewing. I know that is sad, but it is the truth…maybe I do need to get out more!

For those of you who may not be familiar with the terminology, a ‘cut’ is when two pieces of film are joined together, it is a form of transition. For instance, a boy and girl are holding a conversation. Each time one speaks the viewer sees who is talking. Firstly, you see the boy talking, when he stops and the girl starts speaking you see her face. That change, from him to her, that is a cut.

In fast moving action scenes and in advertising, where time is at a premium, you will see many ‘cuts’ per minute. Chances are you will not have been aware of most of them…until after you have read this. Now you will not be able to watch anything without seeing just how many ‘cuts’ are involved, even in the simplest broadcasts!

I hear you asking, how the devil can that help me write better?

Truth is it may not.

But it helps me and this is how I utilize them.

For this explanation assume that I am writing an important part of my stories plot. I need to get the emotion and feeling soaking into my reader’s psyche. This is one of those parts of my book where I must get the reader totally immersed, living my fictitious world.

I have already written the basic scene, it is in outline form, a rough, very rough draft. Now I need to build it, develop it, into a masterpiece!

Going back to that early shot of the young girl in the dull room I mentioned earlier. Let’s say the story is of a child longing for her dead mother to return.

This time, instead of using that scene as an opening, it is a scene from somewhere within the book, a part that needs far much more input.

It is here I will start bringing in the ‘editing’ tricks.

I shall still start with the description of a dull room, but this time I will place the reader at a set viewpoint, say, where they are looking into the room, through the doorway, from an even darker hallway.

Then I will ‘cut’ the shot.

Now the reader is looking down from above. (remember this viewpoint conjures a sense of loneliness and being lost). This allows me to open the scene up, to use words that reinforce the atmosphere that I am trying to create. Such as “a heavy shadow” or possibly “even the floorboards seemed to weep with sadness as I crossed the room”.

(I want the reader to envisage a large empty room, a figure (my second character) walking across it towards the young girl. I want the floorboards to creak, to give an impression of neglect. (This is to build the atmosphere). By applying the words ‘sadness and weep’ I have managed to blend the sound of the floorboards with the mood of the scene).

Cut.

sophia_blog1Now let’s have a close-up of the young girl. For the first time we see her face, the way the “sallow light settled on her fair skin” or “her pale blue eyes were damp with tears yet unformed”.

(Again using simple words which are descriptive both in their description of the girl, but also in the context of the mood)

Cut.

This viewpoint sees both characters together, gives a juxtaposition of size and age, hints at the relationship between the two. One speaks to the other….Etc.

(The second figure could be a sister, a social-worker or nurse, maybe the step-mother or even the ghost of the girl’s maternal mother).

Cut.

Now the viewpoint is of both of them looking out of the room, into the darkness where they have just heard a noise……ZGPIAp

Cut.

This is how I write my scenes, like watching a movie inside my head, in the darkroom of my mind. I find that it helps me construct a whole, comprehensive section of my plot. It stops me rushing, skimming over sections that really need more care.

Please note that when I say ‘viewpoint’ in this essay, I am not necessarily speaking of the narrations ‘viewpoint’, but that of the images I carry within my mind. Sometimes the two may be in harmony, but that is not always the case. Often a complete scene, or section, can be written from a number of converging narrative angles. As long as the reader is guided along and does not become lost or confused, all will be well.

That is not to say I do not need to edit or re-write, far from it, but each time I do I use the same technique to make the scene work, to create the mood and temperament I am looking for. Editing and re-writes purely allow you to correct the detail and flush out unnecessary and often misleading words.

This way of writing may not work for you. It may go against all you have learnt about writing, or just not suit your style.

But then again it may be worth having a go, maybe a short story or even a piece of flash fiction to start with.

Or maybe you are struggling and I have just come along with this amazing and brilliant idea, which gives you the next bestseller or booker prize winning novel. If that is the case, keep me in mind, please when you receive that big pay-out!

I hope you can glean something from this Rambling, whatever it might be, I really do.


 

 I am, as always open to feedback and comments, don’t be shy. Oh, if you have not done so yet, please feel free to ‘follow’ this blog.

Thanks for reading, Paul.

You can read some of my short stories HERE

or visit my website HERE

where you can see my books, my blogs and what I am getting up-to right now!

 

 

 

 

 

Naked thoughts in New York City

jak-v-usa-vyzrat-na-taxiky

Restless.

I throw back the white cotton sheet.

Laying naked, letting the air circulate over my skin hoping for coolness.

No relief.

Padding barefoot I cross the room.

Sliding the glass doors open, stepping onto the balcony.

The slight breeze a welcome freshness.

Looking down, way down below,

I see the cars snaking through the city,

Yellow cars.

All cars are taxis at night, cabs running to and fro,

Making frivolous journeys for inconsequential people.

I see dots, little dots moving irregularly.

They are humans, tiny individuals,

Way below.

A fire truck passes, lights flashing,

Multiple glints against the glass buildings.

The deep honk of the fire trucks horn billows,

Suffocating all other sounds for that instant.

I look out, around me.

Towers.

Reflections, light and glass.

I see inside lighted rooms, empty offices, lounges, bedrooms.

Nobody has curtains, nobody draws their blinds.

Seduced by the height, blinded by reflection,

They think they are obscured from vision.

But I can see them, all of them.

I am standing in darkness, hidden in the shadows, looking out.

One pair of a thousand eyes, from a thousand dark places,

Windows, balconies, rooftops, all staring at the city,

Watching it move, pulsate, vibrate, gyrate.

Who, I wonder, is watching me as I stand here naked,

Breathing in the night air, cooling my skin.

I do not care.

Look all you want, feast your eyes,

Fantasise, ogle, masturbate if you wish, I do not know you, nor you me.

Even if you are there, in one of those thousand windows,

Or upon one of a thousand rooftops, if you exist anywhere but in my imagination,

I still do not care.

Another siren, echoes reverberating up the sides of the towers,

Lights flashing, reflected, refracted, distorted in the mirror glass.

I turn around and pad barefoot back to the bed.

The faint light falls on her skin, she sleeping with one leg out,

Twisted in the sheet I discarded, the other splayed wide and her arms akimbo.

Hair pouring over the pillows, a delta of soft threads.

There is no room for me now.

I do not want to wake her, or disturb her slumber.

I am not tired, I have no desire to sleep.

I grab a drink from the kitchen and go back onto the balcony,

This time I sit, open my laptop and light a cigarette.

I write this, my random thoughts of dark recesses, prying eyes,

Mirrored glass walls, and yellow taxis,

I write of my sleepless night in New York City.

END

© Paul White 2014

FFCO‎0911‎2014