Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Kindle and Illustrations...

Here's a heads up for all of you who may have written a highly illustrated book in the past and been frustrated that Kindle is realistically only suitable for text-based books. 

My highly illustrated children's books sell very few in hard copy, and I'm very pleased to see my first one out there as an iBook. It needed adapting for the iPad/tablet/etc, specifically because you can only view one page at a time, so double-page spreads don't work, but but well worth the effort, and hopefully will make some sales! 

There are good instructions on iTunes on how to build the book - fairly easy, I gather, although if you want someone to do it for you, contact me and I'll put you in touch with The Grateful Ted, who did mine for me! Also a great advantage is that the illustrations are multi-lingual, and the little text there is can be translated to Spanish, Japanese, Vulcan - whatever - with relative ease, so suddenly your book can go global with no print costs, no distribution, no storage, no nothing. It's just out there. Forever. Selling...  

So if you made a 'Photographic History of Lingerie Through The Ages' do get in touch - I'll help you with that one... Or an illustrated children's book like mine, now's the time to dig it back out and pimp it up for the iPad! Take a look here:

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Subtext – The Most Critical Tool in the Story-Teller’s Box

What is subtext? Why is it important? Why is subtext fundamental to a story’s quality.

All writers are told that subtext is the ‘untold’ or ‘underlying’ story, and that stories must be delivered in subtext. Make no mistake - this is true. Without subtext, you literally have no story. However, what the great and the good fail to tell us is how in the world we are supposed to go about telling an ‘untold’ story? How do we bury our story, and still tell it, apparently without mentioning it?

So they give us examples. A character takes a girl by the hands, looks her in the eyes and says, ‘I love you.’ And the audience gasps, because they know that he’s about to leave her for another woman. This is all well and good, but still doesn’t help us understand how to deliver our stories ‘in subtext’.

What we need to know is what writers do to generate subtext.

Creating Subtext
Subtext results from what I call ‘knowledge gaps’. When you craft into your story a difference in the knowledge held by different participants, you introduce a knowledge gap – and simultaneously create intrigue and engagement. This is most easily expressed from the audience or reader perspective:

If the audience knows more or less than any character in the story,
                                  you have story delivery in subtext.

So there are two basic forms of subtext, based on whether the audience knows more or less than a character:
Revelation Subtext
Take a mystery story. We follow the detective through all the events, we see all the clues, and we try to predict whodunit. Then the detective arrests the blonde, and we think, ‘Wha-what? The blonde? But she’s innocent! She’s the victim!’ and our minds go racing back through all that has gone before to try and establish what the detective spotted that we didn’t. The audience knows less than the detective, and revelation subtext is built into the story.
 Privilege Subtext
As the detective bravely climbs the dark staircase towards the attic, his candle blows out and a chill runs through us all, because we know that there is an axe-wielding maniac waiting for him behind the door at the top. Knowledge gaps whereby the audience knows more than a character generate Privilege Subtext.

Within these two types there are at least ten mechanisms for introducing knowledge gaps. By introducing a mysterious character; by using a subplot to influence another plot; by raising questions in the mind of the audience (particularly ‘I know what the protagonist wants - how is he going to get it?’); by playing on audience pre-conceptions (just because he looks like a policeman doesn’t mean he’s not a criminal...); subterfuge (a character with a secret, an alter-ego, lies and deceit are all wonderful examples of subtext);

Other less common types of subtext exist, using implication and suggestion, metaphor and allegory, and a character’s subconscious aims, but we are best to leave these for another day.

The more the audience has to work to make up the story for themselves in the knowledge gaps, the finer the story is perceived to be, so make it your business to understand subtext. The quantity, depth and persistence of knowledge gaps in your story directly relate to how well your story engages an audience.

This is my specialist area and the subject of my PhD thesis. for full details and in-depth examples, take a look at section 4 of The Story Book.



Thursday, 17 January 2013

Does Advertising Work?

So listen, people. I didn't just write The Story Book. I originally got published for writing humorous travel books.

To encourage you to take a look, I've asked the publisher to reduce the price of the kindle edition of my first ever published book - for a limited period only - to a derisory 99 of your English pence.

So show me some love, and I'll return the complement with funny, positive, uplifting writing that I personally promise will brighten your winter blues. Don't take my word for it - look at the sample reviews below and then click the button! This offer must end! 


"One of the funniest books I have ever read." City Talk 

"Interesting, raucous and very, very funny. When it came to the end it was like saying goodbye to an old friend." TalkSport

"A seriously funny man with a great gift for story-telling." Spirit FM

Still not convinced? If you click on the left there are plenty more reviews on Amazon.  Straight five stars across the board on Amazon.com. Here's the latest example:

5 out of 5 Stars. This is a DANGEROUSLY funny book!October 5, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Ocean Boulevard - Adventures On The High Seas: An Epic and Exhilarating Journey All the Way... from a Boy to a Man (Baboulene's Travels) (Kindle Edition)
This is far and away one of the funniest books I have ever read. The author is a comic genius. I literally fell out of bed laughing.

When I rose from the bedroom floor it seemed advisable to take a break from reading in order to recover my composure, and to give my laugh-exhausted innards a chance to resettle. I did a little cooking and then sat down for a small meal.

Unfortunately I also opened the story again and was soon in the throes of hilarity once more, to the extent that I inhaled my hamburger. Only the mercy of God allowed me to clear the blockage before I turned blue.

I'm telling you, this is a DANGEROUSLY funny book . . .