A guest post from writer Eric Haggman: Writing a Book with a Movie in Mind.
Both Eric Haggman and I write thrillers. Recently we discovered that we both have tendency to write in a cinematic bent and agreed to write about this. We’ve posted our pieces on each other’s website. Here is Eric’s post.
Writing a Book with a Movie in Mind
When writing a book, it’s common for authors to see their story play out like a movie in their minds. We have our own vision of our characters, the settings in which they live, the tone and timbre of their voices. In many cases, and definitely in mine, the characters become so real that we start to see them as living, breathing human beings. Sometimes, mine are as real to me as someone walking down the street.
Having lived with these characters as real people, I’ve always dreamed of seeing them realized in physical form – in my case, in film. I’ve spent the better part of my advertising career writing and producing commercials for television and have always eyed the silver screen as my next big move. So, when it came time to write my first book, The Apology, I made a point of planning it with a movie in mind. It’s a great way for any writer to visualize their work, but I found that in my case, it infused a wild energy in the project, and helped me find a signature style that I now consider to be an important part of my voice as a writer.
As an author, there are many tricks you can borrow from the film industry, but here are a few that proved invaluable for my process:
- Scout Your Location(s) – The Apology takes place primarily in Vietnam and Japan. Just like directors scout sets for their movies, it’s important to do the same for your book. Whether it’s a distant land or a diner down the street, visiting the location of your book can bring excitement, authenticity, emotion and grit to your story. Travel to Vietnam and Japan not only inspired the book, but gave me crystal clear visual and tonal references for world-building.
- Find what’s important in a scene, and get to it – Movies rarely have long, drawn out scenes. In fact, the typical scene is around 3 minutes. My natural writing style is short, quick and to-the-point due to my experiences writing for television. Taking a MasterClass from famed thriller author and adman, James Patterson, also helped me hone this skill, and inspires me to get right to the point in my writing.
- Make a Trailer – Borrowing a literal marketing tactic from the film industry, book trailers can serve as a digestible, high impact marketing resource, especially if you’re a self-published author. Visualizing a story can make the experience come to life for your readers – especially when you’re introducing them to new or unfamiliar locations, in my case, Vietnam and Japan. You can check out mine here, and I listed some of my favorites in a recent piece on Medium.
There are opportunities for independent authors today that never would have existed, even a few years ago. Andy Weir’s The Martian, among others, should be clear evidence that self-reliance, positivity, and dedication can pay massive dividends to self-publishers. With the Sundance Film Festival in full swing this week, many will be shopping around their books and screenplays with hopes of a story landing in the hands of an interested exec. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll see The Apology or Atone for the Ivory Cloud on the silver screen! I know I’d be first in line for tickets to either one!
Eric Haggman is author of The Apology. To learn more, please visit, www.theapologybook.com