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Horror/Thriller Author W.D. Gagliani Talks About Writing Like a Film Director: Does It Work?

This afternoon I welcome to my blog the great and amazing W.D. Gagliani, the author of the Nick Lupo Werewolf Detective Series. He’s a wealth of writing knowledge (and well, on most other things as well) and he’s one of my best friends in the writing business and all around for that matter. He’s a great writing teacher and this guest article will give you a glimpse…..

A Bram Stoker Award Finalist Author for Wolf’s Trap, the first book that started it all, his series has been well-received and it isn’t over yet! He just released book five this year and is working on six. If you’ve read them you know how amazing he is, and if you haven’t, then there is always time to catch-up. He also has some other hard-noir thrillers and stories out and is a man of many writing talents. Today, he’s with us to talk about writing like a film director! In the next week or two we’ll have a PART DEUX and will feature an interview. But for now, take it away, Bill…..but don’t run too far away with my blog.


POV in the Nick Lupo Series: Using Shifting Points of View Like Movie Directors
by Bram Stoker Award Finalist Author W.D. Gagliani

BillI’ve decided I would make a rather poor film director, yet that doesn’t stop me from writing my novels exactly as if I were directing a movie.

There’s the whole “filming scenes out of sequence” trip, which is messy and sometimes gets me into trouble, but I keep doing it. I could write thousands of words about that. In fact, maybe I will. Just as soon as I get myself out of my latest trouble.

But here I just want to explain (and explore) my obsession with being a low-rent director. I’m sure that’s what I would be. Influenced by Hitchcock, but hampered by reality and limited talent. So, no, I wouldn’t be directing any classics. But that doesn’t mean I can’t steal the movie techniques that help me tell a story more effectively. Call it an obsession if you want, but I always find myself wrapped up in a directorial mess. Maybe, who knows, it’s the only way I can work. The only way I can be forced to finish, and the only way I can best tell my story.

One of the ways I follow through on my obsessive behavior is to use a variation of a movie director’s shifting points of view (POVs). It’s one thing many beginners use incorrectly. I see this all the time – the writer lets the point of view slide inadvertently and unnecessarily from character to character in the same scene until the reader can’t quite figure out who’s seeing and thinking. The key words there are “in the same scene.” I won’t lie, some of the big bestselling authors do it, too, right in their blockbuster books. But it’s still usually a bad idea, and at least they do it more carefully than the beginners who may be doing it inadvertently. Beginners want to be in everyone’s head at all times… to the point that readers will be undoubtedly confused by the action and the thoughts sliding from character to character. (Add another beginner mistake, a few overly colorful metaphors and similes in the narration, and you have the recipe for narrative disaster.)

But I will also admit that their instinct may be partly on target, because both thrillers and horror tales are best served by multiple POVs – I believe they just have to be kept under control. I’ve always enjoyed the claustrophobic feel of a strict First Person POV in thrillers and mysteries (especially in hardboiled detective stories), but one must recognize the limitations. Choosing to tell the story that way limits what the writer can do, and what the reader can see, because the protagonist isn’t privy to any information he/she doesn’t witness or experience. It’s so limiting a POV that it must be used sparingly, maybe even lovingly and in a way that embraces the difficulties. You rarely see a strict First Person POV used in a movie because you would literally never leave the protagonist’s side, which would be difficult to sustain without causing boredom.

In my Nick Lupo series, starting with Wolf’s Trap, I made a conscious decision to present multiple characters’ points of view, taking as my model, in part, William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. I liked how in that classic work each chapter was narrated from a different POV, and by labeling each section with the name of the character it’s always obvious whose head you’re in. But unlike in Faulkner’s novel, I chose to present the different POVs not as separate First Person accounts, but as Third Person limited. So in essence we look into each character’s head in an omniscient way, but not into anyone else’s within the same section. The technique allows me to create a sort of quilt or tapestry, with some sections overlapping as the same action is seen and described by different narrative points of view, while other actions occur elsewhere and are experienced by different characters – all to connect (hopefully) into a coherent whole by the end.

Occasionally I’ve taken some heat from reviewers/readers who find the jumping around confusing, especially since I also employ parallel stories along two separate timelines. One reader referred to it as (paraphrasing) authorial ADD. “For one thing it jumps around from character to character too much,” another reader complained. Well, that’s certainly part of the reason I use the technique. Whenever I’m stuck or blocked, with no clear “next move” ahead, I will jump forward and take another plot point or section from farther up the timeline (or in the past) and start fresh from that point, trusting my quilting skills later on to patch the pieces together. In essence, I’m “filming scenes out of sequence” and trusting I’ll fix it in the “editing room.”

More often than not, it works. When it does, I am rewarded with the feeling that maybe I wouldn’t be so bad a film director after all. But the process can be excruciatingly painstaking, and there’s the reason I keep saying I’ll stop doing it this way. I’ll stop with the next book.

W.D. Gagliani, Biography~

W.D. Authorpicgambit-210W.D. Gagliani is the author of the horror/crime thriller WOLF’S TRAP (Samhain Publishing), a past Bram Stoker Award nominee, as well as WOLF’S GAMBIT (47North), WOLF’S BLUFF (47North), WOLF’S EDGE (Samhain), and the upcoming WOLF’S CUT (Samhain). WOLF’S TRAP was reissued by Samhain Publishing in 2012. Gagliani is also the author of the hard-noir thriller SAVAGE NIGHTS (Tarkus Press), the collection SHADOWPLAYS, the novella THE GREAT BELZONI AND THE GAIT OF ANUBIS, and the holiday-themed short stories “The Christmas Wolf” and “The Christmas Zombie,” all available for the Kindle and other formats.

A collection of collaborations between David Benton and W.D. Gagliani, MYSTERIES & MAYHEM (Tarkus Press), is available for Kindle and all other formats. Five collaborative short stories are included, as well as one solo short story from each author, and several bonuses along with a guest short story.


He has also written book reviews, articles, and interviews that have been published in places such as THE MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, CHIZINE, CEMETERY DANCE, HORRORWORLD, PAPERBACK PARADE, CINEMA RETRO, HELLNOTES, FLESH & BLOOD, BOOKPAGE, BOOKLOVERS, THE SCREAM FACTORY, HORROR MAGAZINE, SF CHRONICLE, BARE BONES, and others. Also published in the Writers Digest book ON WRITING HORROR (edited by Mort Castle), THEY BITE! (edited by Jonathan Maberry and David Kramer), and in the Edgar Award-nominated THRILLERS: THE 100 MUST READS (edited by Morrell & Wagner), published by Oceanside for the International Thriller Writers. In October 2011, THE WRITER magazine published his article on writing werewolf epics.

His interests include old and new progressive rock, synthesizers, weapons, history (and alternate history, secret history, and steampunk), military history, movies, book reviewing, and plain old reading and writing. He is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and the International Thriller Writers (ITW). He lives and writes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

You can find W.D. Gagliani online at his website www.wdgagliani.com or on Facebook and Twitter.

Newest releases is………..

Wolf’s Cut, Synopsis!

WolfsCut72lg-330resizeThe Nick Lupo Series Book Five.

Nick Lupo: A cop, a werewolf…and a target!

Homicide detective–and werewolf–Nick Lupo is hoping to finally have a chance to focus his attentions on the woman he loves, instead of the Wolfpaw mercenary werewolves who tried so hard to kill him. Lupo survived that battle–barely–and brought down Wolfpaw. But Wolfpaw was backed by a super secret group within the Pentagon whose sinister plan is already in motion. And a new enemy has set its sights on the local casino. Nick Lupo thought he was home free, but whenever he tries to get out, they drag him back in…

Wolf’s Cut is fourth novel following the Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel Wolf’s Trap, so it is the fifth in the savage series of horror/thrillers about the werewolf/cop. These “North Woods Noirs” are set mostly in the wilds of Northern Wisconsin, where werewolf legends abound and the moon paints the treetops silver. Warning: adult content. The next book in the series will arrive in 2015.

Wolf’s Cut is a stellar addition to Gagliani’s Nick Lupo series. An impressive and addictive read… cements Gagliani’s place at the top of the new wave of horror/crime fiction.”
–Dreadful Tales

“With his series of Nick Lupo books, W.D. Gagliani has done more than pump a little oxygen into the tired werewolf thriller. He’s resurrected the entire genre and added a rush of nitrous oxide excitement. Do yourself a favor and pick up Wolf’s Cut, a nice addition to this superior series.”
–Gene O’Neill, author of Dance of the Blue Lady

“W.D. Gagliani’s Detective Lupo series is the best of the werewolf genre. Top-notch writing, nail-biting suspense, and a ferocious mix of serial killers and werewolves… Gagliani continues to deliver fast-paced horror that will get your heart pumping. Highly recommended.”
–Brian Moreland, author of Dead of Winter and The Devil’s Woods

“Being Italian and a former cop I can relate to Lupo on many levels. The whole series is a big hit at our store with several of our staff. We can’t wait for the next book. Keep howling!”
–Tony D’Amato, Chief Armorer of The Gun Store, Las Vegas, NV

“Let out a howl, because Lupo’s back, and badder than ever!”
–John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Violet Eyes and NightWhere
Wolf’s Edge is an exciting page-turned full of suspense, mystery, and thrills. Don’t miss it.”

–The Horror Zine, on the 4th Nick Lupo novel

“Riveting, disturbing, gut-wrenching — and entertaining as all get-out — and I loved every page!”

–Jay Bonansinga, author of The Killer’s Game and co-author of The Walking Dead Series, on Wolf’s Trap, the 1st Nick Lupo novel

“Gagliani once more proves that werewolves are scary as hell.”
—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times-bestselling author of The Dragon Factory

“Gagliani has brought bite back to the werewolf novel!”
–CNN Headline News Book Lizard

“The best werewolf novel since The Howling!”
–J.A. Konrath, author of Whiskey Sour on Wolf’s Gambit

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