Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter

June 15, 2014

GAIJIN: Writing Historical Drama

Filed under: GAIGIN,Uncategorized — Frank Fiore @ 1:22 PM

Writing an historical drama like Gaijin has two challenges. It must be a good fiction story and it must adhere, more more or less, to historical fact.

I quote:

“If the purpose of converting historical events to a dramatic format is to interest the widest possible audience, then forgetting why it is done makes the effort useless. ….. Although historical accuracy and dramatic effect do not always clash, inevitably they will. Then which set of values should prevail? If the story is going to work and hold the interest of the audience, the values of drama must prevail. … that is not easy to do.”

Not easy to do. How true.

As I write Gaijin, I am boxed into the historical timeline I’m writing about and timeline of the historical characters. A pure fiction story has no such restriction. The universe is mine. I can create any timeline I wish. Not so with historical fiction.

I not only have to write into the historical events and historical figures as they unfold, but I have to make those events and character interactions dramatic through the actions of my fictional characters.  Like a fiction story, each scene I write – I call chapters scenes because I want to project images in the readers minds like a movie – must have either tension between the characters or conflict. Each scene of almost any movie must have some kind of tension or conflict between the characters. if not, it makes for very dull entertainment.

The challenge is to make an historical fact – dramatic. If not, I’ve written a non-fiction historical tome – not very entertaining as a story.

I keep the rules above in mind every time a I write a scene.

First, do the research on the historical event

Second, what choose the characters for the scene.

Third, create tension of conflict between the characters.

As the quote above says – it’s not easy to do.


June 12, 2014

You Read – But Do You Leave Reviews?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frank Fiore @ 1:39 PM

The best way to thank an author for a well deserved reading experience is to write a review.

But this is so infrequent, authors wonder why. Reviews sell books! People who want to spend their hard eraned money want to see what others are saying about the story.

So here are some simple prompts to help you fill in that review with the needed 25 non-repeating words required by Amazon. No-one is asking you to produce a literary masterpiece, start off with things you liked, didn’t like or a mix of both about the book.

I liked this book because -
it reminded me of -
it made me think about -
it made me so scared I couldn’t sleep for -
it made me feel homesick for -
it made me more aware about -
Just express your feelings about it.

So if you’ve read one of my books and haven’t given it a review, please take a few short minutes and go to Amazon and review it.

I would deeply appreciate it.

Scathing Early Reviews of Beloved Books

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frank Fiore @ 1:38 PM

A publisher hopes to garner early reviews before doing a full bore marketing effort. But sometimes, those early reviews are not what is expected–even for beloved novels.

Here are a few.

“A pointless and confusing story” – Publishers Weekly 1963

LEAVES OF GRASS – Walt Whitman
“it is no discredit to Walt Whitman that he wrote Leaves of Grass. Only he did not burn it afterwards” – The Atlantic 1867

How a human being could have attempted such a book without committing suicide before he had finished a dozen chapters is a mystery” – Graham’s Lady Magazine 1848

“No better than the dime novels that flood the blood and thunder reading population” –  The Springfield Republican 1885


Filed under: Uncategorized — Frank Fiore @ 1:38 PM

MURRAN is moving nicely through my publisher, Indigo River Publishing.

They are working on the next draft of the cover. It’s going to be VERY dramatic as I sited in a previous newsletter.

The book is going out to test readers next week. They have actually gotten students from two different schools involved. One of the professors will be offering this as extra credit!

Also, their PR people will start digging into the list of Black conservative organizations, writers, columnists, politicians and celebrities to gain their support and garnish per-publication reviews.

They will be building a stand-alone splash page for MURRAN book–simple, single-page site that makes it easier to drive traffic during marketing efforts.

They will also be putting together an online media kit that is essentially a very long single page website. This is set up specifically for interaction with media and other contacts who need to understand the book, myself, and what I bring to the table as a guest.

Hope to have the book out in a couple of months if not sooner.

Runaway from Red

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frank Fiore @ 1:37 PM

A study conducted by Andrew Elliot of University of Rochester and Markus Maier of University of Munich and their colleagues, showed that red type on a page or a red cover adversely influences our performance in tests. In other words, red arouses avoidance behavior. To show this they divided participants into several groups and gave them verbal and mathematical tests. The only difference between the groups was the color of the participant number appearing at the top of each page. For one group, the number was written in red while for the other group the number was written in another color (such as green or black).

The results were astonishing; those whose tests had a red participant number performed significantly worse than those who had a green or a black number.

Amazingly, another recent study conducted by Elliot and Maier and their colleagues showed that you don’t even have to see the actual color red to influence your performance on a test, simply viewing the word ‘red’ is enough. So when designing a test or engaging your readers in a cognitive task, avoid the color red as it may undermine cognitive performance.

Body blows — the force of metaphors

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frank Fiore @ 1:37 PM

Interestingly, sometimes just reading a tactile word is enough to provoke the corresponding bodily reaction. Writers often use metaphors to animate text and help readers understand abstract concepts.

In an interesting recent study conducted by Simon Lacey of Emory University and his colleagues they chose sentences that contained tactile metaphors–such as “She had a rough day”–and paired them with sentences with the same meaning but without the metaphors, such as “She had a bad day.” Participants lay in an fMRI scanner and listened to the various sentences. The researchers found that the brain regions that were activated when the participants heard sentences with texture metaphors were the same brain regions that are activated when people sense texture through touch.

However those same brain regions were not activated when participants heard comparable sentences that lacked metaphors. Thus the use of metaphors packs visceral power that can enhance the reading experience. For example the sentence, “He was terribly scared upon encountering the loud bear” is less powerful than a sentence like “His skin prickled and his hair went electric at the ear-splitting roar of the bear.”


Sensory Fiction

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frank Fiore @ 1:36 PM

A trio of researchers at the MIT Media Lab have taken sensory reading a step further. Felix Heibeck, Alexis Hope, and Julie Legault have developed “Sensory Fiction.” Sensory Fiction is a vest that hooks up to an e-book and enhances our reading experiences by actually adjusting the light we see, the sounds we hear, the temperature we feel, and even our heart rate while we are reading the story. It’s just a prototype but it’s a great example of how our sensory perception plays a huge role in our reading experience.

Factors such as font size, word location, print color and page texture are all factors in how we process information that we read. They can influence our perception of characters and events, the readability of the book, our own test performance, and the speed with which we read. For instance, studies conducted by Thomas Schubert of University of Jena have shown that we automatically and unconsciously associate power with vertical positioning, where ‘up’ means powerful and ‘down’ means powerless. We hear this association expressed in numerous metaphors such as “She looks up to him” or “He thinks very highly of her” but researchers are now discovering that the mere position of the word on the page reinforces the idea in our brains.

In one study, participants were shown word pairs representing power-imbalanced relationships on a computer screen–like employer vs. employee, army officer vs. private, master vs. slave. The pairings were presented vertically, with one word appearing at the top of the screen and the other at the bottom. The researchers asked the participants to identify as fast as possible both the word with the powerful meaning and the word powerless meaning. It took longer to identify powerful individuals when they appeared at the bottom of the screen. Likewise, it took longer to identify powerless individuals when they were positioned at the top of the screen.

Another experiment conducted by Thomas Schubert together with Kiki Zanolie and Steffen Giessner of Erasmus University Rotterdam and her colleagues found that when subjects saw words that represented powerful groups, their attention shifted to the top of a computer screen they were watching. When viewing words representing powerless groups, their attention shifted to the bottom. Therefore, when we read about a powerful person or event that is described at the bottom of the page (or screen), or about a person or event that lacks power but is described at the top of the page, it might take longer to process and understand the information. It might also influence how powerful or powerless we perceive a person to be.

Unfinished Business?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frank Fiore @ 1:33 PM

When Mark Twain lied dying on his deathbed, too weak to speak, he pointed an unfinished manuscript lying on his writing table. To his assistant he mouthed, “Burn!”

Many years ago, in my late 20s, I wrote my first complete novel. It was a SyFy take on some of the Golden Age of Science Fiction writers. It wasn’t very good as written but had an interesting plot.

I hope soon to be a noted author with the publication of MURRAN this summer. That completed SyFy manuscript is in my file cabinet upstairs. Should I get rid of it or leave it as an example of an amateur attempt at writing fiction. Perhaps, at the very least,  it could be useful as a case study in a writing class.

Scariest Loglines Ever?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frank Fiore @ 1:33 PM

In the movie industry, the logline for a screenplay is a short, brief description of what the story is about. It is similar to the ‘elevator pitch’ that entrepreneurs use to pitch their idea in less that minute – the time of a short elevator ride with a possible investor. It’s meant to grab an investor’s attention and want to hear more – presumably when you leave the elevator with him.

The logline is supposed to grab a producers’ attention and make him want to hear more. Here are some of the scariest loglines ever!

“A girl heard her mom call her name from downstairs, so she got up and started to head down. As she got to the stairs, her mother pulled her into her room and said, ‘I heard that too.'”

“The last thing I saw was my alarm clock flashing 12:07 before she pushed her long rotting nails through my chest, her other hand muffling my screams. I sat bolt upright, relieved it was only a dream, but as I saw my alarm clock read 12:06, I heard my closet door creak open.”

“I begin tucking him into bed and he tells me, ‘Daddy check for monsters under my bed.’ I look underneath for his amusement and see him, another him, under the bed, staring back at me quivering and whispering, ‘Daddy there’s somebody on my bed.'”

Creepy, huh?

Reality Imitates Fiction – or Visa Versa?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frank Fiore @ 1:32 PM

So where do creative minds get their inspiration – or, commonly known – their muse? You’d be surprised.

Lots of crime novels and movies are vaguely based on real-life events — a writer reads about some psychopath with a burned face murdering teenagers and thinks, “What if that guy had knife hands?” But the story of how Thomas Harris, the author of the Hannibal Lecter novels, came up with his most famous character is much creepier … and totally random.

In the 1960s, Harris was writing for a magazine and was sent to a Mexican prison to interview Dykes Askew Simmons, an American inmate on death row for triple murder. Simmons was not the model for Hannibal Lecter — he was nothing like him.

During the interview, Simmons told Harris a story about how he got shot by a prison guard, but a doctor saved his life. Wanting to get more details for his article, Harris asked to be taken to the doctor (“Dr. Salazar”), whom he naturally assumed was the prison’s resident physician. If you’re familiar with any of the Hannibal movies, you have some idea of what happened next.

Rather than talk about the shooting, Salazar seemed more interested in manipulating Harris into psychoanalyzing Simmons, questioning the writer about Simmons’ physical disfigurements, his victims, and “the nature of torment,” a topic that rarely comes up outside of chats with murderers and truly disastrous first dates. Despite that, Harris admitted that the man had a “certain elegance” about him. After the meeting, Harris asked the prison warden how long Salazar had been working there, only to be told that the man was in fact an inmate — one deemed too insane to ever leave. Salazar had been a surgeon who had used his skills to “package his victim in a surprisingly small box.”

As often happens in real life, Salazar’s actual story doesn’t involve a spectacular escape that includes flaying guards alive. Yes, Salazar actually did end up getting out of jail, but he dedicated himself to providing medical assistance to the elderly until he died in 2009.


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