Category Archives: Great Bad Sentence

The Right Kind of Fiction Author Video

Why don’t more authors do video right? I was researching the kinds of things that authors do to get noticed, picking random books off my shelf and picked up one of Lawrence Block’s novels. So I followed him to facebook and found this video on his fan page. As a guy who does video production by day, I couldn’t help but pump my fist for Lawrence.

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Every author should have something like this.

What is so cool about this video? First, it’s just plain fun in a noir mystery sort of way. It has a production value that is above and beyond the $$ means of most writers. But throw that out the window. At this moment I just want to tell you that it does the one thing that very few authors even attempt, yet it should be a staple of their facebook/twitter/web page presence. Can you guess?

Lawrence has produced a bazillion books in different genres. He’s best known for crime fiction, though, so this video fits his author image. But that’s only part of what makes it work. You don’t have to have a big budget to do what takes this video to the next level. Authors immediately think video = book trailer. But you see, this is not a book trailer, it’s a profile piece. Time and again the eggheads who study such things, tell us that, as with movie stars, politicians, musicians and anyone else in the public eye, once a reader bonds with a creative culprit like an author, they want to know what makes that person tick. This video answers that for his followers. That’s the key.

Who are you? We want to know
Very few authors post profile pieces. Hell, even I don’t have one, exactly. Though in my video trailers for Live At Five and The Patterer I talked about how and why I chose to write those novels. And that gives you a glimpse into my snarky outlook on life.

If a novel is really good or if a fiction series becomes popular they will sell. Sometimes a lot. But writers should make at least a minimal effort to reach out and connect with their readers face to face (virtually), be that one reader, a dozen or a million. Let your voice be heard (and your face be shown). I swear, it will be more interesting than your typical book trailer.

I’d love to see more of my friends on facebook / Linked In / Twitter use short videos so I can see and hear them, and connect better whether they are a writer or not. If you’d like a couple of tips, simple ways to do that without making your video look like nothing more than a moving selfie, shoot me an email. Advice is free. Lar@larrybrill.com.

Drum roll, please. And now, another really great bad sentence. This is the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest winner for 2017. It comes from Kat Russo in Loveland, Colorado:
darkandstormy

The elven city of Losstii faced towering sea cliffs and abutted rolling hills that in the summer were covered with blankets of flowers and in the winter were covered with blankets, because the elves wanted to keep the flowers warm and didn’t know much at all about gardening.

A Writing Retreat with Donald Maass

Literary agent and novel guru Donald Maas spent time with writers in San Antonio last week (May 2015) counseling, critiquing and instructing for the Writers’ Retreat Workshop. It’s a fun, but intense week, for Fictionistas. Since video is what I do when I’m not involved in literary malfeasance, I decided to put together this clip about the retreat with the one, overriding take-away from Donald’s workshop.

Write&Wine

 

It’s all about making your readers feel.

Click Here.

The thought about how the art of fiction is all about what you make your readers feel struck a chord with me. And Donald wrote about it as the key to creating The Great American Novel that truly is great, in his book Writing 21st Century Fiction.

 

As for writing Bad Fiction, at least that one bad opening sentence for the Bulwer-Lytton Contest:
darkandstormy

With her interest in dime-store novels finally fading and Christmas just days away, little LIzzy Borden sat quietly in the corner and crossed “tomahawk” off her Christmas list, writing instead the word AXE, carefully in her best penmanship, which made her mother and father so proud.

An Awesome Retreat for Fiction Writers

If you don’t count my attempt to write a total ripoff of the Hardy Boys at age twelve, I started getting serious about writing fiction shortly after moving to Austin twenty-five years ago. That’s when I discovered writing instructor Gary Provost in the pages of Writers Digest. WD We lost Gary back in 1995, but the writers’ retreat workshop he co-founded is still going strong and going on this week in Texas.

I am a graduate of the workshop from a couple of years back, shortly before publishing my first novel Live At Five. I wish every budding author could experience something like that, a week of writing and socializing with other writers. It’s fiction summer camp for adults. So on this 20th anniversary of Gary’s passing, I created this short video tribute to Gary with Writers’ Retreat Workshop co-founder Gail Provost Stockwell and current director Jason Sitzes.

It also provides one of Gary’s favorite tips for new fiction writers:

I will grab more video from the 2015 version of the Writers’ Retreat Workshop in San Antonio and share some newfound knowledge from one of the instructors next week.

In the meantime really great bad sentence to start your novel:
darkandstormy

Hard-boiled private dick Harrison Bogart couldn’t tell if it was the third big glass of cheap whiskey he’d just finished, or the way the rain-moistened blouse clung so tightly to the perfect figure of the dame who just appeared panting in his office doorway, but he was certain of one thing…he had the hottest mother-in-law in the world.

Putrid Prose @ 20

Twenty years ago this month I penned the following sentence for the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. The goal is to intentionally write the worst opening sentence to imaginary novel. And, twenty years ago, I won the contest with this:

As the fading light of a dying day filtered through the window blinds, Roger stood over his victim with a smoking .45, surprised at the serenity that filled him after pumping six slugs into that bloodless tyrant that had mocked him day after day, and then he shuffled from the office with one last look back at that shattered computer terminal lying there like a silicon armadillo left to rot on the information highway.

D&Stormy3The contest was inspired by the work of Victorian author Sir George Bulwer-Lytton who wrote the line that Snoopy made famous: “It was a dark and stormy night….”

Along with winning the contest in 1994, my sentence was published in one of the anthologies covering the contest’s thirty-something years. So if you don’t count the thousands of TV news reports I did over the years, that was my only publishing credit until my novel Live At Five made it to the bookstore shelves last year.

And now, on the anniversary of that infamous assault on literature, the local newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman, did a very funny column on it by humor writer John Kelso. And the paper sent a video producer/cameraman out to create a video news story about my quest to reach the bestseller list and be the first writer to officially go from worst to first. It’s only been a handful of times, but it’s always a weird feeling to be the interviewee rather than the interviewer. And I can’t help thinking “I would have phrased that question like….” or some other such distraction to staying focused on the answer I’m giving. Now I’m waiting to see what the producer does with the twenty minute interview to cut it down to two minutes or less.

Been there. Done that.

As for the 2014 Bulwer-Lytton contest, we’re waiting to hear about this year’s winners. As we used to say in the TV business, “Stay Tuned”.

Lar