From the President: Matt Bayan
Traditionally, stories started out with a description of setting. In both movies and books this was called “exposition.” However, in recent years, exposition has shrunk more and more. We have shorter attention spans. We want things to get moving. We don’t want a long explanation of background.
That’s why “immediate scene” has become more important to readers and moviegoers. Audiences want to get right into the story, be immersed in it. The challenge for writers is to plunge in, yet introduce the details of setting without bogging down the scene.
Think of TV shows such as, Law and Order, CSI, Gray’s Anatomy. The show usually starts with some kind of emergency or a murder. The audience doesn’t know the context at the start. The pieces start to get revealed as the show progresses.
How do James Bond movies start? With an action scene. In Casino Royale, the first ten minutes–the teaser–involves Bond chasing some operative in the most spectacular footrace I have ever seen. It looks like they’re in the tropics, but we don’t know where. We don’t know who the guy is who’s running from Bond. We don’t know why Bond is chasing him. This is a far cry from Dickens who would have given the dates of birth of pursued and pursuer, walked us through their grammar school days, and given the shoe size of everyone in the scene.
I’m NOT saying to start a novel with an action scene. I’m saying to get the reader into what’s happening right away. Forget prologues, world-building, data dumps, and a lot of description right up front. Work the setting and world-building into the story in pieces as you stay in immediate scene as much as possible.
The teaser that launches immediate scene is now expected by audiences. When we send queries to agents, they expect immediate scene too. The slow burn is something bestselling authors can afford because they’ve already captured an audience who is more willing to give them some leeway. But if you’re starting out, immediate scene is your best friend.
Matt came up with an idea to help our authors reach potential readers within our own group. The idea is to get a free published book from up to 20 High Sierra Writers. While you may not read all the books offered, we’re asking you to review the ones you do read on Amazon and/or Good Reads or wherever you usually buy books.
To make this easy, we will put all the books, listed by genre, on a flash drive with a short description. All books will be in pdf format. If you want to read it on a Kindle, you can use the Send to Kindle app on your computer to convert it to mobi format.
Here are the guidelines to follow for submitting a book and getting a book flash drive.
- All books on this drive should be published. They are copyrighted books.
- Submit only 1 book only per person. If you have a series, make it your first book.
- State genre, keywords, and a short book blurb when submitting to make it easier for readers to choose your book to read.
- Submit the book cover image and the book via PDF. If you can’t convert it, contact Rene.
- If you take a book drive, review any of the books you read from it. The author is giving you a free book, please be kind enough to write at least a short review on Amazon.
- Do not copy or share the book drive with others. This is for High Sierra Writers only. You may copy the books to your own computer, flash drive, or tablet.
- Return the flash drive at the next meeting after you receive it. That way, we can give it to more members who wish to read.
- To participate as an author, please submit your published book as stated above by November 1, 2021. Send them to RPAverett@gmail.com or email@example.com.
Hey, everyone, we are beginning the last month to enter the 2021 High Sierra Writers Writing Competition. I know we’ve had a couple of stressful years, but our entries are not coming in for the contest yet.
Are you planning to enter for a chance to win $100, $50, or $25? The three categories for this year’s contest are:
1) Flash Fiction – 500 words max. $50 first prize, $25 second
2) Short Story – themed to the West (Any west) = 1500 to 3000 words. $100 first prize, $50 second – This can be about any west setting you want, even in space on another planet.
3) Children’s Story – suitable for something like Children’s Highlights Magazine. 1000 to 2000 words. $100 first place, $50 second.
All third place finishes will get a free one-year membership in HSW.
If you have something that will fit one of those, why not submit it? Our judges, to be selected depending on number of entries, will read and give you feedback on your story. And, you might just walk away with some money or a free HSW membership.
The entry deadline is October 31st. Full details, entry forms, and payment buttons are on the website here. If you have your story ready to go, bring the entry form, printed or digital copy on a flash drive, and your entry fee to the next meeting on October 9th at Scheels.
If you have questions, please send them to Board@highsierrawriters.org
An Update on Kindle Vella
Since the program is still in the beta stage, it lacks other features, which could make it better for the authors and readers. Finding stories can be difficult if you’re looking for a specific book or author since it doesn’t have a search option within the Vella section. If you know the name of the story and the author, you might be able to find it on the Amazon search in Kindle. I’ve had mixed results with this.
If you locate a story you want to follow, you can click the follow button. But, it seems to be hit or miss if you’ll get a notice when a new episode is uploaded. Some readers report getting notified on their phones or tablets, but not always. If you are using a computer to read, you don’t get anything.
Right now, Vella is only available in the United States. British and Canadian authors are anxious to give it a try, but I think when the beta period ends, they will have better results than the U.S. Guinea pigs.
(This is a long article, so if you want to read more, please go to my blog at this link.)
To my knowledge, three High Sierra Writers are publishing on Kindle, Kitty Turner, Russell Jones, and me (under Lillian I. Wolfe). We could sure use your help to get more traction on the system, so if you would go to Vella and read, then give a thumbs up, it would be appreciated. If any other HSW authors are on Kindle, please let me know. I am adding a page to the website with the stories and links to Vella to make it easier to locate the stories.
Here are the stories and links:
Financial Freedom Through Writing
Rene (Lillian Wolfe)
Russell D. Jones
Call of the Void
To find the Vella stories from your computer or tablet, go to this link:
Oh, did I mention you get 200 free tokens to read a few episodes after the first three free ones?