Thursday, July 5, 2012

Special features

So, I had this idea, and I wondered if anyone had ever tried it, or thought about trying it. You know when you buy a DVD or Blu-Ray these days, there are invariably "special features" attached? Often this includes deleted scenes, which are usually pretty cool to see.

What if you could get the same thing for books and short stories?

Whenever I get into writing a story, I almost always have a scene or two that gets completely cut out because it didn't serve the story very well. Much like the deleted scenes of movies end up on the cutting room floor. So, I had an idea that maybe when I get around to building an actual author website for myself, I would include these "special features" on the pages for my individual stories.

Case in point, my current Sci Fi story involves a cybernetically enhanced soldier. I had written an entire scene wherein he learns to work with his nowfound abilities. But it didn't really move the plot along much, and it felt more like an infodump/aside. But, what if I posted that scene as a teaser? Maybe as some background and insight into the character? Then it would be available to readers who "want to know more" but wouldn't disrupt the flow of my story.

Another feature I thought would be cool is illustrations. Most stories, no matter the length or format, remain largely unillustrated (except comics and graphic novels, obviously). Leaving the reader to guess what the characters and locations look like. Now, this usually isn't much a of a problem, since any good writer will give adequate description through the course of his story. However, I like illustrations, especially character and equipment. They can convey to the reader exactly what was in the writer's mind, and sometimes it's kind of cool to look at them and think "So, THAT's what that looks like."

Related to this would be what I refer to as a "personnel file." Basically, it would be a brief, clinical description of a character's background, giving info like date and place of birth, what school they went to, previous occupations, etc. Basically everything you would imagine being in a person's file with an employer or government agency. These would be easy for a Sci Fi or Modern story, though they may not work so well for Fantasy. Again, these would just be little tidbits to fill out the details that may not be so integral to the story itself.

I usually do all of this stuff behind the scenes anyways, just to help me work out details of my characters and worlds, in order to keep them straight when I am writing. But do you think there would be interest on the part of a reader to see this stuff all polished up and presented for public consumption?


Joe Bonadonna said...

Excellent idea, Tom! I just dumped a whole chapter because it was not important to the plot, though I liked it very much. One of the attractive things about Airship27, and ProSe, Moonstone and other pulp publishers are the b/w interior illos. Very cool. Just like the old pulp magazines.

Charles Gramlich said...

I typically include a 'about the stories' section in all my collections. A lot of folks have said they enjoyed that aspect of it.