Monday, January 23, 2012

The Perfect Tease

Compelling, Intriguing, Tease…

Any artistic piece is a combination of different elements that are arranged in such a manner as to be compelling to the observer, the audience. Creating a compelling work is more than just the internal elements; the setting, scenes, dialog, pacing even tone of the piece. Making a compelling work is ultimately perfecting the art of the tease.

Every creative work relies on an intriguing presentation to attain the interest of the viewer regardless of the medium.

The primary challenge for any piece is to compress the entirety of the work into a small segment that is both a summary of the piece and an outstanding 'hook' that leaves the viewer with the desire to know more about the work.

Photo Credit
In cinematography, especially the film, this initial hook can be presented as 30 second or 1 minute clip of a work that summarizes the piece, creates tension and makes an exceptionally compelling argument for why the piece should be viewed. Often these promos, or teasers, feature the most dramatic or compelling moments of the overall piece to show a heightened sense of drama and conflict. A secondary approach to the cinematic teaser is to create the compelling nature of the piece by only revealing the unique elements of the work and creating an incomplete picture of the piece.

In these cinematic instances, the teaser is created as an instrument to compel the audience to experience the entirety of the piece. Both approaches rely on the viewer's questioning nature to create sufficient desire to 'fill in the blanks.' Why were the characters fighting/running? What is going on at town/village/office etc.

The differences between narrative teasers and visual teasers are precious few. The primary difference between literature/narrative teasers and visual is that the narrative needs to constantly replicate the sense of the teaser. The cover is the first compelling teaser, combining the most dramatic elements of the piece into a visual representation that serves to intrigue and compel interest.  The synopsis is the second teaser, compressing the entire piece into a few lines that serve to outline the story and leave the observer with the desire to 'fill in the blanks.'

Moving into the actual narrative, the first line that is affectionately known as a 'hook' is the teaser. A highly effective line that serves to pique interest in the piece. The first paragraph, page and even chapter become the more complex teasers that allude to the overall narrative and hint at the direction of the piece. Subsequently, each introductory line in a chapter and exit line serve as teasers to compel interest. This is where perfecting Macro-composition can assist greatly.

Outside of the primary narrative, teasers are constructed in animated gifs, book-trailers and even ad text that are designed to highlight aspects of the work while remaining true to the overall piece.

No matter the medium, all creative works rely on being the perfect tease. Creating that perfect tease is an ever evolving process and what worked previously may no longer be acceptable or effective. The audience is constantly evolving and so too does the art of the tease.


Michele Shaw said...

Oh, the hook. I can't count the hours I have spent on this important, yet frustrating part of every story. I've blogged about first chapters being my nemesis and the hook is at the top of those screaming tirades I go through while getting that first chapter down. I agonized for weeks to get my elevator pitch just right, and oddly enough, it took a four hour car ride alone to make it happen!

PW Creighton said...

Michele, thanks for the insight. I think the heart of any creative project needs to be that teaser. The more complicated projects like film and literature are more difficult because the teaser needs to be modified and replicated throughout the entire work. It's why I like thinking in a visual sense, how would it look on screen? Compelling and atmospheric? Dull and slow?

Diane Capri said...

Good suggestions. These teasers drive me crazy. Very hard to do. I know it when I feel it, but I have to kiss a lot of frogs first.

PW Creighton said...

Diane, thank you for stopping by. They can be very dynamic and difficult but it is our goal in the end.

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