Screenwriting Tricks for Authors

What’s the EXPERIENCE of your book or script?

One of the key elements of Act II, especially Act II: Part 1, is the PROMISE OF THE GENRE.

Your GENRE (and subgenre) is a promise to your readers or audience about the EXPERIENCE they are going to get by reading your book or watching your movie.

It’s a contract with your readers. So let’s get you thinking about the experience you want to create for them!

Photo by Jr Korpaon Unsplash

You can get an immediate grasp of what EXPERIENCE a book or movie promises from the book cover or movie one sheet (ie the poster).

Authors complain constantly about the sameness of book covers, and yeah, there is a LOT of blatant copying among publishing houses. It’s embarrassing and infuriating for an author to get handed a book cover that is a virtual copy of a cover (or seven) they’ve already seen hundreds of times in bookstores and on Amazon and the socials in the last few years.

But, granting the laziness and borderline plagiarism, there is some justification for that sameness. When you see one of those covers featuring an empty swing in a deserted playground, you know you’re getting a thriller focusing on the rescue of a child in jeopardy, right? The reader gets that information in a split second, and if that kind of suspense and high stakes and police procedure and family dynamics is the experience they’re looking for, they pick up or click on that book, at least to check it out. And you, the author, are that much closer to a sale.

black metal swing on brown concrete floor
Photo by Clay LeConeyon Unsplash

Your book marketing team knows they need to create covers that promise a specific experience. And you need to know what experience YOU are promising—and deliver it!

  • In horror stories like Hereditary, Insidious, A Quiet Place, Sinister, The Shining, The Exorcist, we EXPERIENCE the terror of being trapped in a house or world dominated by a powerful evil force (demons, aliens, ghosts), and the adrenaline rush of fighting to survive.

  • In romances, we experience the stages of falling in love, from that electrifying first glance at the loved one and the roller coaster magic of early infatuation, through all the exhilarating terror of coming up against all your weaknesses and realizing someone else has all the power over you, to the true marriage of souls.

    man and woman holding hand while walking on bridge
    Photo by Shea Roudaon Unsplash
  • In mysteries, we experience the intellectual pleasure of solving a puzzle.

person holding red jigsaw puzzle
Photo by Ryoji Iwataon Unsplash
  • In a thriller, the pleasure is more visceral, focused on action and constant jeopardy.

So what is the EXPERIENCE that we hope and expect to get from your story?

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