Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter

September 4, 2014

More Writing Quotes

Filed under: On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 7:00 AM

“It’s a damn good story. If you have any comments write them on the back of a check.” – Erle Stanley Gardner, American Lawyer and Author of Detective Stories

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.”  – Isaac Asimov, American Science-Fiction Author

And finally, here’s a quote that all real writers will understand:

“What no wife (or husband) of a writer understands is that a writer is working when staring out the window.”  – Burt Rascoe, American journalist, editor and literary critic of the New York Herald Tribune.

July 31, 2014

Write What You Know? Not Necessarily

Filed under: Frank Remarks,On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 7:57 AM

That time worn advice is given to all new authors. But I disagree.

I say write what you CAN know. That means, learn what you need to pursue a story idea.

I write in many genres. Some say authors should stick to one and be known for it. I’d rather be known as a Michael Crichton. I want to write stories that interest me no matter what the genre.

So I’ve written techno-thrillers, action/adventure, SyFy and speculative fiction. My next two books will be general fiction followed by a ‘What If ‘historical thriller. I want to give my readers a taste of many genres in hopes they would enjoy my work. A good story is a good story. Its purpose is to entertain the reader no matter what the genre.

Do you agree?

June 15, 2014

Ebooks Turning the Publishing World Upside Down

Filed under: On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 1:25 PM

Ebooks on course to outsell printed editions in UK by 2018.

The ebook will overtake the paperback and hardback as Britons’ preferred format for reading their favourite novels by 2018, according to a report. The UK consumer ebook market – which excludes professional and educational books – is forecast to almost triple from £380m to £1bn over the next four years.

Over the same period, accounting group PwC predicts that sales of printed editions will fall by more than a third to £912m as the UK population’s reading habits become dominated by tablets, with 50% of the country expected to own an iPad, Kindle or a similar device by 2018.

Nigel Newton, the chief executive of the Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury, said the surge in ebooks had fuelled a “golden age of reading” in the UK.

May 8, 2014

Grabbing the Reader

Filed under: On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 8:50 AM

I’ve written several times about conflict in movies and novels. Conflict in movie scenes and book chapters make the story interesting and holds the readers or viewers attention.

So, I’ve dedicated this entire issue of ‘Frank Remarks’ to grabbing the reader.

David Farland talks about this quite a bit in his newsletters. He states that a story must have significant conflict within the first few pages to instantly grab the reader or else it is reduced to tedium.

Farland states these elements that a storyteller needs to deliver in the opening pages or minutes of a movie.

1) a character-preferably one that is likeable or interesting
2) a setting-hopefully one that is intriguing
3) a substantial conflict-one that instantly pulls the reader into the story.

To quote another rule of storytelling – ‘showing is better than telling’. So let’s look at the opening scenes from two of my novels (and an unashamed plug for them) to see if they fit Farland’ three rules.

This is the opening chapter of my techno-thriller CYBERKILL.

   The airplane was leaving in a few hours, but Travis Cole still had some unfinished business in his MIT office – one of which was to get his in-law off his back.
     “Please, John. We’ve been over this a hundred times,” Cole murmured, leaning forward on his desk to stare down at the computer monitor in front of him. He rested his fingers lightly on the keyboard, his hazel eyes focused on the command prompt on the screen:
DO YOU WANT TO EXECUTE? Y/N
     Could he really do it?
     Though Cole had made up his mind, it was now formal decision time. Pressing ‘N’ would continue his life as a well-known researcher in eco-biology at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Pressing ‘Y’ would end three years of cutting-edge work and move him and his daughter to a new home in Washington, D.C. and a lucrative research job with the U.S. Army.
     Cole’s finger hovered over the keyboard – he felt sick.
     John François was, as usual, sucking on the end of an ornately-carved wood and leather pipe. It went along with his academic look: elbow-patched sports coat, baggy brown pants, and loafers.
     “It’s not right, Travis,” François implored. “It’s not right to take Shannon away from the environment she knows just weeks after her mother’s death. It’s just not right.”
     Cole kept his focus on the task at hand. They had been over this a thousand times. Shannon, Cole’s young daughter, was already in the car, waiting. In fact, all his luggage and many of his important worldly belongings waited there as well. He would return later for the rest of his stuff.
For now …
     For now, he had to just get away.
     Cole’s finger still hovered. He blinked hard. Could he really do this?
     Yes, I can do this.
     “And what about this?” François said as he opened the cover of a three-ring binder with the title TERRAN PROJECT written in blue across the front. François gently thumbed through the pages and pointed at the different artificial intelligence programs that Cole had cataloged and tracked while at MIT. “You’re just going to throw away years of work?”
     Cole ignored François and turned back to the computer terminal with its blinking white cursor awaiting a reply.
     He took in some air – and pressed the ‘Y’ key on the keyboard.
     Cole turned to François while the computer executed his command unable to watch. Instead, he looked at his aging in-law with compassion for the man. Since his wife died of leukemia ten years before, François had lived alone. Cole and Shannon were the closest thing he had to family.
     “John …” said Cole gently, but François cut him off.
     “Shannon’s only five years old, Travis. Taking her away from the surroundings she knows isn’t the answer,” he pleaded. The older man had tears in his eyes.
     Damn. Cole gently placed his hand on François’s arm. “John, I don’t know what I would have done without your help after Kathy’s death. But I know what’s best for Shannon. I have to give her a change.” Cole squeezed François’s arm, then looked back to the computer screen. He watched as file name after file name appeared on the screen, all tagged with the same statement:
FILE FOUND. FILE TERMINATED.
     Cole looked at his watch. “Jeez. We have to go. You’ll see us off?”
     François nodded in resignation.
     “Thanks. Shannon will like that.” Cole glanced once more at the scrolling text on the computer screen, turned, and hurried out the office with François close behind.
     In the darkness of the vacated room, the program reached the end of its routine, and then stopped on the last file. The text that glowed from the LCD screen turned from white to red and blinked repeatedly insisting on an answer.
FILE FOUND. FILE ACTIVE.
ABORT OR CONTINUE?

So – how did I do? Did it meet Farland’s criteria?
How about this one? Here’s the opening pages of A Taste of the Apocalypse from the Chronicles of Jeremy Nash.

    The old aeronautical engineer felt the hairs rise on the back of his neck. He wondered if it was a change of airflow in his room – or trepidation.
     It was both.
He turned around in his moonlit 5th floor hospital room at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to see a slouched silhouette in his open doorway. A cold shiver coursed down his spine, as if it had been dipped in ice.
Henderson squinted, his eyesight failing with age. But before recognition dawned on him, he knew something was going to happen.
     And it’s not going to be good.
     Particularly for him.
The silhouette slivered towards him. Henderson backed away with fearful recognition.
“Vajda!” he whispered nervously under his breath.
Now fully immersed in a pool of silver light, the tall alarming figure nodded imperceptibly. He continued gliding forward in an unusual, stooped manner, like a jungle cat hunting its prey.
     And I’m the prey.
     Standing near the wide window, Henderson was suddenly having difficulty breathing. He was acutely aware that he was trapped in a small hospital room with nowhere to run. To make matters worse, Vajda was between him and the nurse call button.
The threatening figure said nothing as he closed the gap between them. Now fully in the moonlight, Henderson saw a tall muscular man with a shock of white hair growing out of a head of dark brown, dressed in a Romanian style silk brocade coat that reminded Henderson of a certain vampire count
“What do you want from me?”
He knew he had little hope he would survive the night. Hell, survive the next five minutes, but he gave it his best shot. “I didn’t tell them anything,” he cried out almost inaudibly.
     With stunning speed, Vajda pounced on him, gripping his throat with two strong hands. Henderson’s air supply was immediately cut-off, and with it, any hope of calling out for help.
Vajda calmly watched Henderson with two different colored eyes — one an extremely pale blue and the other an almost colorless brown. A deep, brutal scar ran from under his left ear to his chin.
Henderson thought he was the ugliest son-of-a-bitch he’d ever seen. But then Vajda’s hideous face started to blur before him. Like an encroaching oil spill, darkness crept along the edges of Henderson’s vision. In an amazing feat of strength, Vajda pulled the obese man straight up off the floor, holding him suspended in the air.
     “Where is he?” Vajda demanded with a slight lisp from his cleft lip. “Where is Nash?”
     Henderson couldn’t speak — hell, he could barely see. Vajda held him up a moment longer, and then slowly lowered the old man to the floor, grudgingly releasing his grip.
     Gasping, Henderson would have fallen to his knees if the stooped man hadn’t held him up. He painfully sucked in air through what he believed was a very damaged throat.
     “I-I don’t know,” he gasped, stumbling over the poorly formed words.
     “So you do not know where to find Nash?”
     “I don’t! I swear to you! I think he’s dead.”
     “Then you are of no further use to us.”
     With that, Vajda grabbed Henderson by the collar and dragged the old man to the window. In one fluid motion, the brutal assassin kicked the barred window open, splintering the window frame and releasing whatever locking device it had. Glass and metal rained down to the parking lot below as a soaring wind rushed up into the room blowing up through Henderson’s hospital robe.
     This isn’t happening.
     Henderson could hear the sound of traffic below, horns honking, cars rushing by.
     “I’ll see you in hell,” spurted Henderson.
     And with that, Vajda shoved the old man through the deadly opening. Henderson flipped once, hit his head hard on the outside ledge, mercifully blacked out, and dropped five floors to the pavement below.

Did these meet Farland’s criteria? Drop me a line and let me know what you think.

An Interview with Tina Howe

Filed under: On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 8:45 AM

Every so often I like to post an interview from a radio host I work with for interest of my readers. This one is from Tina Howe, a fellow Sci-Fi writer.

Tina Howe is the author of the first two sci-fi books in a series and a children’s picture book.  The audio version of Alysa of the Fields, the first book in The Tellings of Xunar-kun Series, won Mom’s Choice and Reader Views awards (2011) and a Readers Favorite award (2010). The second book, The TrailFolk of Xunar-kun, won The Written Art (2009) and Readers Favorite (2010) awards. The children’s book which she also illustrated, Snailsworth, a slow little story won Readers Favorite awards in 2013 for both the book and audio book.

http://www.tinahowe.com

Q – How often do you write? Articles? Essays? Or Books?

I’m an extremely visual writer. I’ve been working more on scriptwriting these days and work on a script every day which includes various aspects of story creation – concept, character development, outlining, dialog, rewriting, and rewriting.

Q – What inspires you?

The need to tell a story that both I and others will relate to inspires me. It’s often things in the news that bother me that are a springboard. My stories can be based in fantasy, dramatic, or comedic situations. Mostly I like the “what if” of a story, creating characters and situations that will play that out. “Snailsworth,” a story about believing in yourself, was inspired one evening as I sat on my back steps. The scene in my book is nearly identical.

Q – What do you do first? The writing or the illustrations?

When I’m working on a story, I work on several versions of an outline first. It’s in this stage that I get ideas for illustrations and create a storyboard that offers more than the literal depiction of the story and goes beyond the words.

Q – Which is harder?

When I was creating the picture book, I worked back and forth between writing and illustrating. I don’t think that one is more difficult than the other. Switching off does the other side of my brain a rest and also brings story enhancements to mind. Writing and illustrating are never “easy” but then I don’t gravitate toward easy.

Q – Do you have a vision of what the characters will look like?

Yes. When I’m writing either a novel or a screenplay I try to place either A-list actors or people I know in the character roles. If I need a character that nobody, including myself, has seen before, I make them seem as realistic as possible to fit the role and work at them until they’re clear. In Alysa of the Fields, I created a type of monster I’ve never seen before.

Q – Your first sci-fi book won first place in an art award contest. Did it propel you to greater heights?

Yes, but I think the cover for the second book turned out better than the first. Doing the covers for both books helped me see the world more clearly.

Q – Possibly working for other writers who need artists, marketing your book differently?

I don’t have time to offer illustration work to other authors but I wouldn’t rule it out. I did learn from the first cover that had only Alysa on it that people thought it was a girl’s book; although a girl’s in the lead role, there are many important men, including her love interest. So I put both him and Alysa on the second book’s cover.

Tina was interviewed by Francine Silverman, editor of Book Promotion Newsletter,
an on-line publicist, compiler of 16 ebooks of talk radio shows and host of a weekly
radio show, Fraternizing with Fran – where interesting people come to chat.
http://www.talkradioadvocate.com and http://talkradioadvocate.blogspot.com

 

April 30, 2014

Writing Without Reading

Filed under: Frank Remarks,On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 11:10 AM

As I have said before, reading other author’s works is a cardinal rule of writing. But I don’t read. I watch lots and lots of movies for my writing style, plotting and character development.

I broke that rule.

Or did I?

Before I wrote my first completed novel many years ago – too many to admit – I inhaled – yes inhaled – every 1950s Golden Age of Science and Speculative Fiction I could get my hands on.

Did reading all those books influence my writing style? And what about the classical education I received in a Jesuit high school? I think it did. Layer over that writing style and story construction, my love of watching and dissecting movies and that becomes the foundation of how I write today.

Now given, that many of the movies I watch are based on books, I receive both the benefit of the writing and the dramatization of the stories.

True Stories That Would Make Amazing Movies

Filed under: Frank Remarks,On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 11:09 AM

You’ve seen it in the intro of movies – “This film is based on a true story”. Well, here are two that should be made into a film.

H.H. Holmes and the 1893 World’s Fair

Holmes is notorious for being one of the first confirmed serial killers in the history of the United States. He was already considered a murderer when his home town of Chicago became the center of the then biggest event on the planet. Offering his strangely surreal house (consisting of commercial space and several windowless, maze-like rooms) as potential accommodations, Holmes lured tourists into his trap. He eventually confessed to killing 27 people, though police at the time put the count closer to 200.

The Winchester Mansion

In 1862, Sarah Lockwood Pardee married William Wirt Winchester, treasurer of the famed gun makers. When he died of tuberculosis, the newly widowed woman was convinced that the spirits of those her husband’s weapons killed were coming to claim her family (she had lost a baby boy sometime before). So she set about building a structure to confuse the potential ghosts, a mansion outfitted with doors that opened into walls, stairs that went nowhere, and numerous confusing construction designs. In the middle was a séance room where Mrs. Winchester would seek psychic guidance for the next day’s building.

Now. What producers out there want to create a surefire hit.

March 30, 2014

Some More Best Quotes About Writing

Filed under: Frank Remarks,On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 10:13 AM

Here are some more of the Best Quotes about writing from Writer’s Digest.

“I don’t believe in being serious about anything. I think life is too serious to be taken seriously.”
-Ray Bradbury, WD

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write
. Let them think you were born that way.”
-Ernest Hemingway

“Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.”
-Robert A. Heinlein

“There is only one plot-things are not what they seem.”
-Jim Thompson

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”
-Elmore Leonard

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
-Mark Twain

“You don’t actually have to write anything until you’ve thought it out. This is an enormous relief, and you can sit there searching for the point at which the story becomes a toboggan and starts to slide.”
-Marie de Nervaud, WD

“Writers live twice.”
-Natalie Goldberg

October 19, 2013

Don’t Give Up!

Filed under: Frank Remarks,On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 10:34 AM

Writing is a very lonely profession on one hand, but on the other, you are living within a stable of people you created. Still, when other profession receive support for their ongoing endeavors, writers need to find that the power to keep going in the face of rejection and perhaps the occasional ‘Oh. That’s interesting’ when you tell others of your story.

I found an article about authors who didn’t give up. It was written by Janeen Elite, and much was taken from Jack Canfield. Here it is.

 “Well, take heart dear writers and don’t give up. Just because a strange ‘someone’ didn’t like your piece does not mean it is not good.”

The following is a list of writers who also received “that” letter. Many even received it more than once, but they didn’t let that stop them, and you shouldn’t either.

Margaret Mitchell received ‘that’ letter 38 times. The book? Gone With The Wind

Talk about rejection, James Joyce’s Dubliners was rejected 22 times! And even after it was published, only 379 copies sold in its first year. To make matters worse, Mr. Joyce admitted that he purchased 120 of those copies himself.

“A very bad book.” Told to Pierre Boulle about his “Bridge Over River Kwai”

“The book is not publishable.’ regarding – “Who Killed Virginia Wolfe?”

“…too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling” told to Dr. Seuss, about his book And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street.

“This is a work of almost-genius – genius in the power of its expression – almost in the sense of its enormous bitterness. I wish there were an audience for a book of this kind. But there isn’t. It won’t sell.” told to Ayn Rand about her book The Fountainhead.

“…she is a painfully dull, inept, clumsy, undisciplined, rambling and thoroughly amateurish writer whose every sentence, paragraph and scene cries for the hand of a pro. She wastes endless pages on utter trivia, writes wide-eyed romantic scenes …hauls out every terrible show biz cliché in all the books, lets every good scene fall apart in endless talk and allows her book to ramble aimlessly …” The author was Jacqueline Susann and the book was “Valley of the Dolls.”

So, if you are writer, don’t despair – keep writing.  And remember this quote from Judy Blume . “I would go to sleep at night feeling that I’d never be published. But I’d wake up in the morning convinced I would be. Each time I sent a story or book off to a publisher, I would sit down and begin something new. I was learning more with each effort. I was determined. Determination and hard work are as important as talent.”

Surprise!

Filed under: On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 10:32 AM

You’ve seen them in books and movies. Those turnabouts called by a number of names—“reveals”, “revelations,” “twists” or “surprises”. They add a lot to a story and make it much more interesting.

What you never want to do is make your story predictable or derivative where the reader or viewer says, “Yeah. I know what comes next.” Makes for a boring story.  I used the surprise of reveal device many times in my stories and I get the result I was looking for from my readers.

Case in point. In my first Jeremy Nash novel – A Taste of the Apocalypse – I have a major character turn on Jeremy Nash and the Mossad agent Sabra in a very surprising scene. A reader told me that what transpired was like a punch in the stomach.

Dave Farland wrote about these surprises.

The truth is that writers love a reveal because we as an audience love a reveal. We crave those juicy little surprises that pop up in a good story. In fact, as a writer, I crave them so much that I often like to write by the seat of my pants often just so that I can have those nice little surprises jump out at me as I’m writing. You know what I mean—those moments when you discover that the protagonist’s best friend is really the killer that they’ve both been hunting throughout the book. Sometimes the idea will strike you, and you’ll look back at your story, and see that it seems you’ve been setting up that surprise all along.

A good writer will season his work with surprises, peppering them in.

Read more of his comments on surprises here.

As I develop my next novel, Ijin, I consciously look for places to put in reveals that will surprise the reader.

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