Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter

August 15, 2015

Where in the World is Frank?

Filed under: IJIN,On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 10:03 AM
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Stuck in World War Two…..

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted to my blog. Reason? Deep into writing my new novel IJIN.

Most of my time has been split in doing the research and actually writing the story. To that end, I’ve been re-watching The Winds of War and War and Remembrance TV series to study the formula of how it portrays WWII through historical and fictional characters.

Currently, I have reached the invasion and capture of Saipan by American forces. This story is long and may turn out to be as long as Wouk’s epic.

While viewing the TV series, I found the last 4 episodes of War and Remembrance to be a disappointment. It seems the TV series had lost the formula. The epic always had portions that were ‘soap oper-ish’ with love life interspersed with the history – or even contributing to it.

But the last 4 episodes dropped the formula of seeing the war through the eyes of the characters experience. When the war was shown, if was simply explained in documentary style footage without seeing it through the fictional characters experience.

I chose to write IJIN would very little soap opera feel. I wanted the war from the Japanese side to be the main focus.

At any rate, as I write this epic, I feel it will be seen as being on par with historical fiction like Wouk’s work. It’s for you to agree or not when it’s finished and for purchase.

February 18, 2015

New COOL Research Tool for Writers

Filed under: On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 9:02 AM
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I don’t know how many times I have been asked “How do you write your novels? How do you do the research?”

I begin by telling them that I graze the web using key words – that lead me to other sites with similar key words – then keep the tabs open or copy the web address to a file – then go back find those URLs and copy the facts I need – then repeat the process over and over again with a slew of tabs and confusing bookmarks staring me in the face.

If you are a writer, you know what I mean.

But now there is new tool in beta that will be and immense help in doing research on the web. It’s called Trailblazer by Twingl. Now you can say, “I’ll send you everything I know about this”- and you can!

I’ll let Twingl speak for itself.

Trailblazer will follow you down the rabbit hole. As you click links and run searches, it builds up a map of your journey.

Trailblazer shows you what’s open, where you’ve been, and what was good.

Feel free to close all of your tabs. The map makes it super easy to pick up where you left off. 3 minutes or 3 months later.

Got a friend or co-worker researching something similar? Give them a head start by sharing them your trail.

More here.

They are open to beta users. Give it a try.

January 30, 2015

First Writing Rule of Thrillers

Filed under: On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 8:38 AM
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“Make everyone fall out of the plane first, and then explain who they were and why they were in the plane to begin with.”

-Nancy Ann Dibble

Because I write thrillers and action/adventures, I receive requests once in a while to read author’s thrillers. More often then not, they break this first rule of writing thrillers.

It took me almost 10 years to write my first thriller. I had to learn the hard way, berated by editors who kept saying ‘A thriller is a page turner. No time to dwell on long narrative passages.’

As writers are told, I would create the necessary character sheet in full detail then begin to read that off when a character is introduced.


As Dibble said, set the thrilling scene first and don’t read off an FBI file of the characters before getting into the action. I return to how movies are written. Check the thrillers out for yourself. There is little time in movies to spend endless minutes describing a character’s background in a thrilling movie. Their ACTIONS and DIALOGUE have to carry that load.

Same with novel thrillers. Let the character backgrounds come out as scenes permit in the flow of the action.  SHOW don’t TELL is the rule here. SHOW the character’s background – not TELL it.

Start your scene in the MIDDLE of action or start with a dialogue. Sure. There are times where several paragraphs of narrative are necessary to get the story out but always ask yourself first, “Can I SHOW this information instead of TELLING it.

Here’s a recent post of mine that gives an example.

If you want to write literature and win that Nobel Prize – fine. But if you break the first rule you will not have a thriller.

January 22, 2015

Shakespeare’s Insults

Filed under: Frank Remarks,On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 8:26 AM
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Insults in Literature? Shakespeare knew how to toss them.  Here’s some quips from the Bard himself.

I do desire we may be better strangers.
As You Like It (3.2.248)

He is deformed, crooked, old and sere,
Ill-faced, worse bodied, shapeless everywhere;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind;
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
The Comedy of Errors (4.2.22-5)

You abilities are too infant-like for doing much alone.
Coriolanus (2.1.36)

They lie deadly that tell you you have good faces .
Coriolanus (2.1.59)

More of your conversation would infect my brain.
Coriolanus (2.1.91)

The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes.
Coriolanus (5.4.18)

There is no more mercy in him than there is milk in a male tiger.
Coriolanus (5.4.30)

Frailty, thy name is woman!
Hamlet (1.2.147)

They have a plentiful lack of wit.
Hamlet (2.2.198)

There’s no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune.
1 Henry IV (3.3.40)

Thou mis-shapen dick!
3 Henry VI (5.5.35)

No man’s pie is freed
From his ambitious finger.
Henry VIII (1.1.94)

Some report a sea-maid spawn’d him; some that he was begot between two stock-fishes. But it is certain that when he makes water his urine is congealed ice.
Measure for Measure (3.2.56)

Thou art a Castilian King urinal!
The Merry Wives of Windsor (2.3.21)

You juggler! you canker-blossom!
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (3.2.293)

Thy food is such
As hath been belch’d on by infected lungs.
Pericles (4.6.156)

Out of my sight! thou dost infect my eyes.
Richard III (1.2.159)

A knot you are of damned bloodsuckers.
Richard III (3.3.6)

You peasant swain! You whoreson malt-horse drudge!
The Taming of the Shrew(4.1.116)

Best Shakespearean Comeback

I shall cut out your tongue.
‘Tis no matter, I shall speak as much wit as thou afterwards.
Troilus and Cressida (2.1.106)

January 10, 2015

Narrative vs Dialogue When Writing Stories

Filed under: Frank Remarks,On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 10:56 AM
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Writing a compelling novel is very like writing a screenplay. I’ve found that many of the rules of one apply to the other.

One of the biggest rule of writing is to ‘show not tell’. So, what does that mean and how does it apply to both novels and screenplays?

First, you need to know the difference between TELLING and SHOWING. Telling is abstract, passive and less involving of the reader. It slows down your pacing, takes away your action and pulls your reader out of your story.

Showing, however, is active and concrete; creating mental images that brings your story — and your characters — to life. When you hear about writing that is vivid, evocative and strong, chances are there’s plenty of showing in it. Showing is interactive and encourages the reader to participate in the reading experience by drawing her own conclusions.

So, why is showing so important to screenplays? 90% of a screenplay is ‘showing’ – that is, dialogue. There is very little narrative in a screenplay. Very little telling. You have to tell through dialogue.

Keeping this rule of screenwriting in mind would greatly improve the telling of your story in a novel.

Here’s an example from a brief part of a recent chapter I am writing – or scenes I call them – from IJIN. Keeping the rule of ‘show not tell’ in mind, I began by laying out what had to be explained in narrative form.

The two boys gave each other a look of concern. What had they done? Wild speculation crossed their minds. After all, it took little those days to bring suspicion from the Tokkō thought police and wrath of the Kempeitai upon you.

They both heard of the student that wrote ‘I hate the Military’ on the wall of public toilet and was investigated by the Tokkō and severely punished. Or the person that defaced an Imperial note by writing over the Emperor’s face ‘No more war’ and promptly arrested.

When they arrived at the principal’s office, the two boys were quickly taken into separate rooms. Kenji was forced to sit across a desk in front of two Kempeitai – one a non-commissioned officer and the other a Major.

Now, here is how I rewrote it ‘showing’ the scene not ‘telling it’.

As soon as the two boys approached their classroom, the stern Army Captain that was assigned to their school, approached them. “You two! Report to the principals office,” he barked. “Now!”

The two boys gave each other a look of concern. What had they done? Wild speculation crossed their minds. After all, it took little those days to bring suspicion from the Tokkō thought police and wrath of the Kempeitai upon you.

“Maybe it was something we said – or did,” Black Patch feared. His mind went wild. “Did you write ‘I hate the Military’ on the wall our school toilet like that boy did last month?” He nodded his head. “He and his family were investigated by the Tokkō and severely punished.”

Kenji shook his head and said, knowing Black Patch’s proclivities, “Do you think they found the Imperil note you wrote on defacing the Emperor’s face?”

That sent a shiver down Black Patch’s spine.

When they arrived at the principal’s office, the two boys were quickly taken into separate rooms. Kenji was forced to sit across a desk in front of two Kempeitai – one a non-commissioned officer and the other a Major.

Note the transposition of the narrative into dialogue between the two boys. And the use of dialogue helps you follow another important rule of writing – and you can see this used time and time again in movies – create friction, tension or conflict in a scene.

By changing the narrative of people arrested to a dialogue, the fearful words between the two students created tension. This makes the scene more interesting.

Keep the rules of screenwriting in mind when writing your novel and you’ll tell a more interesting story.

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:
     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:
     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.

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.

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. and


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