How to say more by saying less - Claire Scobie
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How to say more by saying less

How to say more by saying less

Writing something short can be as hard or harder as working on a long sprawling project like a novel. But in the process of whittling down your words, you get to the heart of your story.

Statue of indian hindu god Shiva Nataraja - Lord of DanceI realised this putting together my book trailer for The Pagoda Tree. For this I worked with talented videographer Michael Amendolia and Walkley-winning film editor Ella Rubeli.

Using Scrivener I first put together a storyboard with my vision for the trailer. Then I put together a three-page script. As I quickly discovered 3 pages was far too long for a 3-minute clip.

Michael filmed me in my office. We did several takes and each one helped refine my message.

Then the footage, sublime original music from Vicki Hansen, images of Indian temple dancers, the evocative book cover and the exact fonts were sent to the Ella, the editor.

Ella put together a rough cut. I watched it several times and wrote down everything I’d said. It soon became obvious which parts needed to be stripped back. I retyped my script, shortening it from 3 pages to 1 page.

It amazed me how little you actually say on film compared to what you write. Of course, with film or TV the images work for you. The music adds atmosphere. The final details, transitions and combination of images/words create the experience.

But the essence of what you’re doing is the same. You’re refining your key message.

When you start a writing project or a book, a helpful exercise is to write a 300-word blurb for it – like you find on the back cover.

Then trim this to 100 words. Then cut it to a sentence. All of this makes you focus on your strongest storyline.

In the end my 3-minute book trailer can only give a taste of what The Pagoda Tree is about. It’s been a fantastic process: collaborating with other creative artists, learning to see my book in a non-writerly way, using other media to tell my story.

It’s also given me insight into how flexible stories are – but how you always need to know the WHY of what your writing.

Please share the trailer now also on Penguin youtube with friends!


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