Bob Hostetler

Bob Hostetler

Bob Hostetler here, offering another prayer for writers:

Lord Jesus,
you turned a meager lunch into a banquet for thousands,
a common lake trout into an ATM,
a brash fisherman into a water-walker,
a skeptical Thomas into a staunch devotee,
and a grisly death into death’s defeat.

Please turn my faulty thoughts and flailing words into something worth reading.
Amen.

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Ted Baehr

Ted Baehr

A great story goes somewhere.

It tells us something.

That something is a premise.

A poor story wanders about, gets lost and bores an audience.

In a baseball game, the team with the most runs wins. You watch the game to see if the team that you like can get the most runs and win the game. Imagine how boring baseball would be if there was nothing to win: if “games” were like practice sessions where players just hit and fielded balls without a clear purpose. No one would want to pay to watch.

A premise says, “To win, I must show you that [premise].” It’s the filmmaker’s job to prove the premise with every ounce of skill they can muster.

The baseball team intent on winning a game does so with great pitching, fielding, hitting, running, and strategy. It’s obvious from the first pitch to the last what the goal of every action is. It’s to win.

A great movie aims to prove its premise with script, acting, lighting, sound, music, and editing. Hundreds of experts in their craft work to prove the premise, just as baseball players strive to win a game.

Think of it a little like Jesus Christ telling a parable. His parables were often stories, well told. They had characters doing things for a reason. Jesus didn’t tell the story of the prodigal son just to entertain his listeners. He was proving a premise about God’s love for those who’ve done wrong. His parable about the Good Samaritan proved that Godly love is not just meant for family and friends. Every character in the story, and every action they took, was important in proving the premise.

A premise has three distinct parts. A “this,” a “does” and a “that.”

The premise of the prodigal son story would be, “God forgives sin.” There is a subject “God”; an action “forgives”; and, an object “sin.”

On his way home, the prodigal son does not pass a Samaritan in a ditch. Such an event would be a distraction from the premise of the prodigal son story. On the other hand, the jealous brother is a powerful subplot. The jealous brother serves as a contrast to God’s love. The brother reveals human nature. His role in the story makes God’s grace look that much more amazing.

Subplots, like all aspects of filmmaking, should serve the premise.

A great movie delivers on the premise with show, rather then tell. Audiences don’t come to hear sermons delivered in dialogue.

Imagine a movie of the prodigal son story. The lighting, the music and a close-up on the father’s face, when he first sees his wayward son approaching, should say in music and image all you need to know about love and forgiveness. Body language and action should be like an inspiring work of art as he runs to meet his son. An audience should be in tears before the two speak a word to each other. What they are about to say should already have been said with facial expressions.

David Lean was a master of creating emotion without dialogue. In movies such as THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, he cut gracefully between sweeping scenery, and close-ups, telling far more than dialogue ever could.

Every aspect of a movie works to prove the premise. In a movie, you can “prove” a premise that’s not true. The entire American sexual revolution was built on media “proving” sex outside of marriage is healthy and desirable. It’s been a disaster.

Fortunately, we’ve been seeing more and more movies with premises supportive of faith and values. We long to see this growth continue.

How To Succeed in Hollywood Without Losing Your Soul by Ted Baehr

How To Succeed in Hollywood Without Losing Your Soul by Ted Baehr

Without a premise it’s unwise to start a script. It’s like wandering around in the dark. With a premise you have a reason for each character, each scene and each line of dialogue.

Ideas for scripts don’t always emerge the form of premise. You may get an idea for some situation and characters that you find to be entertaining or inspiring. Before you go off building a story around a clever idea, pause and ponder the premise such an inspiration demands.

You’ll find that beginning with a solid premise will save you from dealing will all sorts of headaches as your script develops.

It’s healthy to ask yourself on a regular basis, “How does what I’m writing help prove the premise?”

If it doesn’t help, or if it actually hurts, drop it.

_______

To be continued…

 

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C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson

Take it from me. When researching the topic of marketing for fiction, it seems there are about as many “experts” out in cyberspace and our local bookstore as there are writers of fiction. Each one believes they have the formula for success. Yet, when you check their sales numbers on Amazon or CBD (if they are Christian-based), their sales are often not very good. What does that say to you and me?

What it tells me is that selling books is a lot like creating a product. Some become household names, like Kleenex and Ford. Some were mistakes that found a purpose in another realm, like sticky notes and Rogaine.

Others never get past the cutting room floor.

In just about every case, marketeers abound. You’ve got your Ronco people, who appear in your face every Saturday afternoon and at night between the hours of 2:00-4:00 AM, offering their wares to the “Next 20 callers.” This has become so popular, a spin off crowd of QVC mavens have taken this concept to 24 hours a day! I wonder how many of these folks actually read books…

Then there’s the Guru group who put out ads in the next city on the tour, inviting you to a convention center setting for an evening. Their promise is to hand you their million-dollar fiction marketing makeover kit, regularly $599.00 for only $149.99. Others create companies that do the same thing and are primarily cyberspace cadets.

Lastly, there’s the “local experts” I spoke of earlier. They’ve written a book. Usually, it’s self-published. And they desire to sell it to you. They promise 10,000 followers on Twitter when their own personal account has only 702. Hmm….

What I do find amidst the noise is they all end up in the same stomping grounds. Arenas of expertise that seem to ebb and flow based on a variety of factors.

For example, authors must have social media accounts, they say. What I’m finding is that most people on social media like me are doing the same thing. We all “like” and “follow” each other, but how many of us actually purchase and read each other’s works? Not get it for free in exchange for a review. Not wait until the eBook goes on sale for 99 cents. But actually buy it when it first comes out in all of its $17.99 per paperback glory?

Authors, they say, should hold promotional gimmicks like giveaways and swaps. Again, what many people are finding is these folks get the free copy, read it, give a review, and then sell it online…some of them making more money than the authors. Sigh.

Another thing is, authors need a website. I’d be interested to know how many fans actually go to their favorite author’s website.

What’s the point of all this?

Perspective.

Finding what works for you amidst all the noise is so critical. It’s really one big roll of the dice. Sometimes, we come up snake eyes. Other times, we hit it big. Some love social media and find that it works for them very well. Others see social media as the spawn of Satan. Some love book signings. Others would rather go to the dentist for a week of days before sitting behind a table, pen in hand.

So, find what works for you. Get good at it. Then, expand to the next trial and error method.

Build your platform.

One thing at a time.

One day at a time.

So that, in the end, it’s something you can live with.

_____________________________________

The Serpent's Grasp by C. Kevin Thompson

The Serpent’s Grasp by C. Kevin Thompson

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister, and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) and 30 Days Hath Revenge – A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1.

 

Website:           www.ckevinthompson.com

Blogs:               www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com

http://www.thehelpfuleducator.blogspot.com

Facebook:          C. Kevin Thompson – Author Page

Twitter:            @CKevinThompson

Goodreads:        C. Kevin Thompson

 

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Mystery Rider by Miralee Ferrell

 

Mystery Rider by Miralee Ferrell

Mystery Rider by Miralee Ferrell

In the third installment in the Horses and Friends series, thirteen-year-old Kate Ferris already has one problem. Snooty, well-to-do Melissa is boarding her horse at Kate’s family stable. When Melissa suddenly turns nice, Kate is shocked … and suspicious.

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Author, Janet Perez Eckles

Author, Janet Perez Eckles

Hola from Janet Perez Eckles…Igniting Your Passion to Overcome

This past Friday, I figured out what to do to reach success.

“Okay, guys,” I announced to my 7- and 5- year old grandkids, “here is the game. Take this straw and blow on the cotton ball gently enough so it will stay between the two lines marked with masking tape on the floor.”

They both grabbed their straws, took turns, giggled and did their best.

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