Saturday, October 31, 2009

- Happy Halloween!

Strolling through the neighborhood, the decorations were impressive and I wanted to share them with you. As I looked at the houses, I realized the focus was on setting the tone, first impressions--just like the opening of a story.

While some of these entryways may over promise in terms of delivering something similar inside, don't you just want to check it out?

Here this real estate agent is clearly calling attention to the key element they want you to focus on (Yes, the agent's name really is Bubes. Perhaps it's pronounced in a special way):

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Here a daunting uphill climb is accompanied by ghosts and an organist, luring you to the top...

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It's all about the entry way:

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Step right in...

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Where are you going, and what makes you want to go there?

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This was the "piece of resistance" (never have been able to understand how that phrase works in French--shouldn't it be irresistible?). Quite an entrance, isn't it? I like the skeletal remains on the pathway.  The witch is almost too scary...

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And here there's room for some added support (don't they look like a ghostly version of Rodin's The Burghers of Calais?), directing you too that compelling opening. Nice, eh?

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If your story were a house, would you want to go inside? What does the entry way look like?


Michelle Styles said...

The entry way to a story is also its cover as it helps to set the mood and tone as well. There have been some books that I had read and kept on reading simply because they have a killer cover. But yes, an fantastic opening to the story is also vital.

But I love your pictures. When I first came over to the UK, nothing was done about Halloween (I can even remember when it first started the local supermarket sold pieces of pumpkin!) but now it is v popular and is starting to surpass 5 November in many ways.

Isabel Swift said...

Absolutely, the cover is a significant aspect of a reader's selection process, along with the title (customers are divided between those who respond to words Vs pictures) and of course the back cover copy.

But as we know "it takes a village" to create a book! Creating a cover involves multiple other players, challenges and issues, so was focussing on what was more under an author's control.

I am fascinated to hear of Halloween's growth in the UK. When I lived there, it was just Guy Fawkes' Day. While I'm not a big fan of rampant commercialism (though I deeply admired the remarkable chocolate displays one Easter at Tesco), there is something special about All Souls Day. Tradition gives all ages "permission" to re-imagine themselves, to change identity, to pretend and to dream.

Isabel Swift said...

Michelle: and I might add I think your cover and title--The Viking's Captive Princess"--looks fabulous! Think it will appeal on both visual and title. And of course, knowing you, the story will deliver!

Michelle Styles said...

Oh it certainly takes a village to produce a book! SOmething that it can be easy for an author to forget...but I try to remember.
I adore the cover and the title for The Viking's Captive Princess. My editor and the entire historical marketing team have done me proud! I think it really captures the mood.
And the cover etc is all about capturing the mood. But I do know what you mean about the first scene setting the expectations as well!

And the growth of Halloween is astonishing. The North East where I live has always had a little -- they used to make lanterns out of turips and swedes (rutabagas) which are far harder to carve than pumpkins. Fifteen years ago, I gave a halloween party for my two young children so they would expereince an American Halloween. It was the first time most of the mothers had been to one, but the children liked the whole dressing up thing. About 10 years ago, Halloween suddenly took off. I think it has to do with the opportunities to market. And now at Tescos, you have banks of costumes. But it means bonfire night is less important. The times I have spent shivering waiting for fireworks and the bonfire to be lit...It might have to do with Health and Safety as well as the fireworks are proper fireworks...
And speaking of chocolate displays, you should try Fortnam and Mason's at Easter. The eggs are to die for!