Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Transform Serious into Engaging

The 9-11 Report coverOne of the greatest challenges for any writer is to take a serious topic and tell the story in a highly readable form.  It can be done but most writers don’t want to do this difficult work to pull it off. One of the best recent examples is the graphic novel treatment for The 9/11 Report, A Graphic Adaptation. Some people scoffed at turning a serious nonfiction report into a graphic novel (a form usually reserved for action heroes). In my view, it’s one of the most innovative ways to get this information to the reader in a way which is engaging and interesting.

While I was interested in the full-report of The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, I was not one of the millions who purchased The 9/11 Commission Report, which was over 500 pages and the version from W. W. Norton & Company spent 17 weeks on the Publisher’s Weekly bestseller list. I didn’t buy one nor did I read it (from some place like the public library).

When I read about the release of the graphic novel version, I purchased a paperback copy and I read it. The Chair and Vice Chair of the 9/11 Commission wrote the foreword for this version and endorsed the accuracy of the contents to the original report. It captures the heart of the longer report. I read every page of the graphic novel version. Now it’s only 128 pages and with the format, it’s an easy read. It’s a sobering read but something reachable for the broader public.

Our world has many serious topics. The question for every writer is can you take a serious topic and engage the reader. It’s not easy. I see a lot of poor attempts in the fiction area. In my past work as a magazine editor and with other publishers, I’ve seen many poor examples in the nonfiction area as well.  The responsibility for the story falls to the writer. Can you open with a bang or a hair-raising story which pulls me into the pages? Can you hold my attention chapter after chapter with excellent content? Can you create a book title that I can 1) easily remember and 2) is interesting and I will pull off the bookstore shelf or at least remember to walk into the bookstore and order?  It takes hard work and creativity and often time.

I recommend you take a look at this new version of The 9/11 Report.It’s a fresh example of what every literary agent and every editor is looking to find in their stack of submissions and book proposals.  For each location, the subjects of specialty will change but the quest is the same for each editor or each agent.

1 Comment:

At 11:21 AM, Blogger SAND STORM Left a note...

Great post I've linked.


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