Monday, June 01, 2015

Guest Blog by Clay & Susan Griffith - Writing Movies - June 1, 2015

Please welcome Clay and Susan Griffith to The Qwillery. The Shadow Revolution, the first novel in the Crown & Key series will be published on June 2nd by Del Rey. The Shadow Revolution will be followed by The Undying Legion on June 30th and The Conquering Dark on July 28th.

Writing Movies
Clay & Susan Griffith

Fade In:

There are times when we just can’t write. It’s just not coming. So we watch movies. It’s not procrastinating. No, really. It’s inspirational. We’re working on our craft. Sometimes.

When we give workshops on writing genre fiction, we talk a lot about movies. There are several reasons. One is purely practical. Movies are more likely to be a shared experience among our audience than even a bestselling book. When we give an example from Star Wars, we’re more likely to reach most of the audience. If we give an example from even a famous book like The Great Gatsby or Dune, we hit fewer targets (unless they’ve also seen the movies).

The second, and more important reason, for talking about movies is that movies can teach prose writers, particularly genre writers, a lot about writing. Movies are about characters and action in concert. Successful movies teach lessons in how to stick to the point, cut the fat, keep it moving, raise the stakes, focus on character and plot and setting.

Obviously just dozing while watching a movie won’t teach you anything. Nor will watching the same type of movie all the time. Just as with books, we recommend stretching outside your comfort zone. Watch everything. Drama. Comedy. Musicals. Westerns. Horror. Blockbuster and indie. American and foreign. Study them. What is their point? How do they accomplish their goals?

And don’t limit yourself to contemporary movies. Some of the masters made their mark decades ago. Sure those movies may look dated because they’re black and white. You may not be able to relate to people wearing fedoras and saying “Say, baby, that’s swell!” But that’s like saying you won’t read Shakespeare because the characters “talk funny.” It’s okay to have preferences – we do. But you will be stunned by the things you can learn about storytelling from classic movies.

Another thing we do, and recommend for other writers, is to read books on screenwriting. Of course, there are millions of them out there because the “I Want to be a Millionaire Screenwriter” market is just as large as the “I Want to be a Millionaire Novelist” one. Maybe larger. So we’re careful not to fall down the rabbit hole of finding the next “How to Sell Your Screenplay” book. There are a handful that will suffice as the best in the field, and we’ve read most of them. It’s pretty easy to pick out a few of the good ones with a little snooping around online, like Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman and Screenplay by Syd Field.

Our novels such as our new CROWN & KEY trilogy and our VAMPIRE EMPIRE series are often reviewed as being “fast-moving” and “cinematic” which is the very thing we are going after. However, readers also talk about how they fall in love with our characters, and we take great pride in that. Our ability to balance these two elements – character and action – owes much to being movie people (as well as comic book people, but that’s another blog post entirely!). In a movie, characters can’t usually have long internal monologues to explain their feelings. You have to see them. We try to show our characters doing things that define them.

Obviously in a novel, we have the resource of words on a page to accentuate important emotions. In literary fiction, the expression or revelation of emotion is often the point of the story. Since we write fantasy adventure novels, the point of emotional revelation is to let the reader know what the character is feeling as he or she moves forward in the action, so the reader can react with them. We try hard to blend the prose and film approaches in our genre fiction – seeing the characters act and feeling their emotions at the same time.

We want our readers to love our characters (or hate them), but do it while engaged in a thrill ride. We wouldn’t mind if readers feel an urge for popcorn while they read our books.

Fade Out.
The End.

More screenplay resources:
Story by Robert McKee
Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder
Writing Movies for Fun and Profit by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon.

Crown & Key

The Shadow Revolution
Crown & Key 1
Del Rey, June 2, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

A thrilling new Victorian-era urban fantasy for fans of Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, the Showtime series Penny Dreadful, and the Sherlock Holmes movies featuring Robert Downey, Jr.

They are the realm’s last, best defense against supernatural evil. But they’re going to need a lot more silver.

As fog descends, obscuring the gas lamps of Victorian London, werewolves prowl the shadows of back alleys. But they have infiltrated the inner circles of upper-crust society as well. Only a handful of specially gifted practitioners are equipped to battle the beasts. Among them are the roguish Simon Archer, who conceals his powers as a spell-casting scribe behind the smooth veneer of a dashing playboy; his layabout mentor, Nick Barker, who prefers a good pub to thrilling heroics; and the self-possessed alchemist Kate Anstruther, who is equally at home in a ballroom as she is on a battlefield.

After a lycanthrope targets Kate’s vulnerable younger sister, the three join forces with fierce Scottish monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane—but quickly discover they’re dealing with a threat far greater than anything they ever imagined.

The Undying Legion
Crown & Key 2
Del Rey, June 30, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages
A thrilling new Victorian-era urban fantasy for fans of Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, the Showtime series Penny Dreadful, and the Sherlock Holmes movies featuring Robert Downey, Jr.

With a flood of dark magic about to engulf Victorian London, can a handful of heroes vanquish a legion of the undead?

When monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane comes across the gruesome aftermath of a ritual murder in a London church, he enlists the help of magician-scribe Simon Archer and alchemist extraordinaire Kate Anstruther. Studying the macabre scene, they struggle to understand obscure clues in the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics carved into the victim’s heart—as well as bizarre mystical allusions to the romantic poetry of William Blake. One thing is clear: Some very potent black magic is at work.

But this human sacrifice is only the first in a series of ritualized slayings. Desperate to save lives while there is still time, Simon, Kate, and Malcolm—along with gadget geek Penny Carter and Charlotte, an adolescent werewolf—track down a necromancer who is reanimating the deceased. As the team battles an unrelenting army of undead, a powerful Egyptian mummy, and monstrous serpentine demons, the necromancer proves an elusive quarry. And when the true purpose of the ritual is revealed, the gifted allies must confront a destructive force that is positively apocalyptic.

The Conquering Dark
Crown & Key 3
Del Rey, July 28, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

A thrilling new Victorian-era urban fantasy for fans of Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, the Showtime series Penny Dreadful, and the Sherlock Holmes movies featuring Robert Downey, Jr.

The Crown and Key Society face their most terrifying villain yet: Gaios, a deranged demigod with the power to destroy Britain.

To avenge a centuries-old betrayal, Gaios is hell-bent on summoning the elemental forces of the earth to level London and bury Britain. The Crown and Key Society, a secret league consisting of a magician, an alchemist, and a monster-hunter, is the realm’s only hope—and to stop Gaios, they must gather their full strength and come together as a team, or the world will fall apart.

But Simon Archer, the Crown and Key’s leader and the last living magician-scribe, has lost his powers. As Gaios searches for the Stone of Scone, which will give him destructive dominion over the land, monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane, alchemist extraordinaire Kate Anstruther, gadget geek Penny Carter, and Charlotte the werewolf scramble to reconnect Simon to his magic before the world as they know it is left forever in ruins.

About Clay and Susan

Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith met at a bookstore thanks to The Uncanny X-Men #201. They had to get married because of a love of adventure stories with heroes who save the day and fall in love. Soon they were writing stories together, including The Shadow Revolution and the Vampire Empire series. After years of comics, short stories, and novels, they remain happily married. When not writing or talking about writing, the couple watch classic movies, play Warcraft, and struggle to entertain their cat. They still have that copy of The Uncanny X-Men #201.

Facebook ~ Blog ~ Twitter @clayandsusan


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