by Will Viharo
Movies, music and videos are much more popular modes of entertainment than literature. That’s been true at least since the dawn of cinema.
How to compete? You can’t, and you don’t, since they’re all completely different mediums that demand varying degrees of a consumer's investment of time and energy.
But “seeing” and "hearing" your book in your mind’s eye will entertain your audience in the same way a film or song does, only with far fewer restrictions on the imagination…
But you should still be able to “see” the plot unraveling in your own head first, even before you start writing it down. Cast your characters with famous faces, or just make them up, but be consistent for the sake of internal (if relative) realism. You don’t have to concern yourself with a studio budget, or mainstream censorship. Your imagination is literally limitless. Don’t hold back.
“Feel” your fiction as well. Put yourself in your characters’ predicament. My personal technique is to write my characters into corners, then let them write themselves out of it. Works for me, maybe not everybody, though. You need to forge your own path.
Do You Hear What I Hear?
As in a movie, a strategically selective soundtrack will help set the mood, and maybe even inspire your characters’ next moves, especially if you feel stuck. Choose music that expresses the mood you’re creating, just like a film score. This way you can not only “see” your story playing in your mind, but you can “hear” it as well.
In fact, many authors post unauthorized “soundtracks” of specific songs for their books on Spotify or Soundcloud, or even subcontract customized “book soundtracks,” like I did for my novel A Mermaid Drowns in the Midnight Lounge.
I actually issued an exlusive soundtrack CD via Lulu, featuring the original music of a talented musician named Actual Rafiq. Lulu discontinued that service so the CD is OOP, and the book has been reissued both via a small press and now my own imprint, but the music is now free online.
Basically, whatever muse you choose, it should be something that stirs your own senses, and evokes whatever atmosphere you’re attempting to translate to the page, then virtually transfer to the minds of your audience, where it will be reinterpreted and reinvented per the experience of each unique individual. That's the beauty of it. And you don't need a green light from a film producer for this to happen, either. You're in total control of your own artistic vision and destiny.
Cover art is also very important, even before it’s publicly revealed and implemented as a crucial marketing tool. I always commission my cover art as soon as I have a title, both for the sake of online promotions, and to help me complete the story with my own “visual aid.”
So “picture” your book before you write it, both as a story and as a product, then, as Picard always said, “Make it so.”
PHOTO: WILL VIHARO