October 29, 2014

Suped Up Feature: The Sword of Souls by Ellie Di Julio

The Sword of Souls
Forgotten Relics 2
Ellie Di Julio
October 28, 2014
Urban Fantasy
Second chance at life? Check.
Ultra-rare magic powers? Check.
Badass new job? Check.
Saved world from evil goddess? Not so check.

Cora Riley assumed when she joined the FBI’s Supernatural Cases Division that she’d be dismantling Otherworld treachery alongside Jack Alexander, the storied Agent 97 who guided her through the underworld. Instead, she’s filing reports for Sofi Strella, a smart-mouthed agent ten years her junior.

When Jack finally does make contact, it’s not for sidestepper training, a quiet drink, or even an apology; it’s to investigate a magical narcotic that’s boosting supernatural belief to dangerous levels.

The case leads to the realm of Faerie, where Jack encounters an old flame and an even older enemy, both demanding his allegiance. As he battles the entanglements of his past, Cora continues the mission, ultimately facing the eerily-familiar Queen Mab, who wields a legendary blade in the name of Eris, the mad goddess of chaos.

Novel Cinematography: The Movie in Your Mind

You probably don’t think about it much, but I’d bet all the money in my couch cushions that you think a book’s something to hear, not something to watch. When you’re reading, you hear a voice in your head, right? You’re not seeing anything besides words on a page.

But I challenge that. To me, novels are a visual medium.

When I’m working on a book, I have a specific mental picture of what’s happening during each scene. A little movie, if you will. I know what each character looks like, the details of the environment, the colors and textures and emotions. There are specific actions, phrases, and weather. I can see it all in my mind’s eye as if it were real.

It’s my job as an author to choose the best combination of words to get that same picture to appear in your head as you read. I have to transcode visuals into words so that you can turn them back into pictures again. If I’m very good (or very lucky), what you end up seeing in your mind is the same as what I see in mine.

This shared vision concept became super important when I wrote my latest book, The Sword of Souls. There’s an entire chapter devoted to a complicated fight scene that’s interspersed with a tense emotional scene, split into three perspectives. It’s the culmination of several plot threads and, instead of telling them separately, I chose to interweave them, much like a TV show or movie cuts between simultaneous events to increase tension and investment.

Without using cinematic principles to guide my writing, the chapter might’ve gone something like this:

Cora holds her sword and waits for an attack.
At the same time, Sofi and her team of dwarves are walking across the other side of the field.
Sofi takes a music box out of her pocket and buries it in the ground, covering it with honeyed cream. It plays “Over the Rainbow” when she steps on it.

Instead, I replayed the movie in my mind hundreds to times to find the right balance of imagery and information to ensure that you see what I see.

Cora grins and crouches down, choking up on her sword like a baseball bat. She hasn’t had SCD sword training yet, but it’s a pretty simple principle. She’ll learn as she goes.

On the west side of the field, Sofi’s taking advantage of the noise Cora’s detachment is making. Her team of dwarves formed their reflective shield wall before they reached the gravel edge of the field, and now they’re proceeding relentlessly forward.

She darts ahead into the rye, staying low while fishing in her field kit with both hands for her faerie bait. She stomps down moldy stalks, then dumps the pocket-sized music box onto the flattened circle and squeezes the entire bottle of honeyed cream over it. A soggy rendition of “Over the Rainbow” tinkles out when she pokes it on with the toe of her shoe.

See what a huge difference the details make? How you can watch the movie as it unfolds?

Books are so much more than ink on paper, my friends. They’re a ticket to a rich visual world, the result of written cinematography that begins with a scene in a writer’s mind and ends with a movie in yours.

Ellie Di Julio is a nomadic writer currently living in Hamilton, Ontario with her Robert Downey, Jr. lookalike husband and their two cats. Between nerd activities like playing Final Fantasy IX or watching Top Gear, she enthusiastically destroys the kitchen and tries to figure out what it's all about, when you really get down to it. She also writes urban fantasy novels and short stories riddled with pop culture references, peculiar memories, and sexy secret agents.

Follow Ellie
Website | Patreon | @EllieDiJulio | Facebook | Goodreads


  1. Love this and the author is right, more often than not when I am reading I see it as a movie playing in my mind as well. Very visual.

    1. Yay! I love it when people say I'm right. ;) And even better to find a kindred reading spirit!

  2. What a fascinating guest post. I guess it is in the details - I've always been elated to find a book that, as I'm reading, plays like a movie in my head. I think it's something special when an author can accomplish that. :)

    1. For sure! More than wanting the words to match up with the movie in my head, I want readers to be super engaged. I get inspiration from Chuck Wendig, who's amazing at those cinematic details in his books, so I find myself looking up to him in this area.

  3. Oh yes, I am a details reader, if the details aren't there I disengage.

    1. Definitely! It's hard to draw that mental picture without at least a little help. :)

  4. yes! I love the details, especially if done right and not overwhelming. Interesting cover :D

    1. I <3 my cover artist! She's a local friend of mine, and I can't wait for the day she can quit her job and go full-time. I have SO MANY MORE STORIES for her to paint. :D

  5. This is very true and I'm pretty sure its why I'm leery of books made into movies. I've had a few jarring moments when the casting and storyline don't even remotely match the movie I saw in my head when I watched the show.

    I love creative world building and Urban Fantasy stories so I'll definitely check this one out. New to me!

  6. I'm a visual reader, where I see the scenes as I read. It's interesting, because I've found that authors who have experience with screen writing, do a fantastic job.

  7. I absolutely agree with this. I've always been a visual reader. When I read, I don't really just read, I imagine them all in my head, and sometimes feel myself immersed in it. That's why I get affected a lot in the books I read, because I can't just feel and hear, I see the surroundings and atmosphere, too. Especially effective if it's a dystopia. Haha.

    Faye at The Social Potato

  8. I didn't know about the book but it's interesting to see how it was done and imagine. I think I hear and I imagine as well but at the same time I don't really see. I don't know is I'm really clear but well. thanks for the post!


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