Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Happy New Year 2016!

Whew. Another year come and gone. I hope you all had a great Christmas!

It's been a long year on the blog here. With a large variety of posts covering a slew of different subjects. My blog got a long-needed facelift and a few new pages. We also hit a major milestone this year, with over 30,000 views!

Let's start with the changes to the blog here. We got a new background, one more befitting a Horror blog. You can now click directly on my books on the left side there. The "Reviews" page became "Reviews By Me" to make it clear what was going on, and I consolidated all my monsters posts onto one page for Cryptids.

Speaking of Cryptids, I added to my list this year, starting with the Ropen, then adding Giant Spiders and Sea Serpents. Bringing my list of 31 Monsters up to 22. We will continue to add to that list in the coming year as well.

One thing I stepped up on this year, was sharing my writing here on the blog. It includes my short story Collaboration, as well as the multi-part serials Class 1: The Delivery, and Walkabout. I must admit that I liked doing the multi-part stories, so keep an eye out in the coming year for more blog exclusive stories. 

Where I really stepped up this year though was reviews. Mostly of video games. The Witcher 3, Batman: Arkham Knight, and Five Nights at Freddy's have all been done. I plan to continue doing reviews into the new year, but probably not as many video games. I plan on going back to look at a few TV series, and I may start posting some book reviews to the blog itself. We'll have to see how that goes though. 

I've really fallen behind on discussions of writing and Horror itself though. Truth be told, I've had trouble thinking of things that I haven't already gone over. True, some stuff bears repeating, and I have a few things boiling up to a couple rants, but it feels like a waste of time to just go over a subject again with only a few snippets of new info. I plan on going back and looking over some of my old posts though, see what needs updating and keeping my mind open to questions I need to answer. 

In the meantime, if you have a Horror or Writing related question, leave it in the comments, or you can find my email on the Biography page and send it to me directly and I'll do my best to answer it. If I get enough questions, I'll likely devote an entire blog post to them. Now that would really be something! 

In the meantime, I hope you all have a good and safe New Year's Eve, and we'll see you next year! 

~ Shaun 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Review: Lost Tapes (TV show)

So, there's a lot more Horror out there than just movies, books, and video games. There's also TV series. While Horror television shows are somewhat of a rarity, there are a few out there, many available on DVD. (Mostly available on DVD, they don't typically seem to last too long, although there are definitely exceptions.)

Lost Tapes was a series that aired on Animal Planet from 2008 - 2010. It was fairly short-lived, with only 14 episodes in its first season.

The premise of the show is pretty simple. Each episode looks at a cryptid or monster of some kind in a "found footage" type of storytelling. The first episode, for example, is effectively an encounter with a Chupacabra, as seen through the video camera of a Mexican girl sneaking across the border into the US, and then through the body cameras of the border patrol officers that find her. 

Interspersed between camera shots, there is typically narration or a factoid which gives insight into current theories about the creature or the area it inhabits. 

(This one refers to the journey on foot of illegal immigrants from Mexico to the US.)

Unfortunately, which the episodes are a list of the most well-known and popular cryptids, this is mostly an entertainment show, good for creeping you out and a few jumpscares. It's not any kind of real investigation, or even summation of these creatures. Most episodes are only around 20 minutes long too, so it's not hard to blow right through an entire season in a day. 

The first season was also the best, delving into such staples as the Chupacabra, Bigfoot, Megaconda, Thunderbirds, and Megalania. Unfortunately, over the second, and especially the 3rd season, they had to reach for monsters people would recognize. The 3rd season falling prey to zombies, poltergeists, and even the Mayan god Quetzalcoatl. 

Still, the show has a fair bit of entertainment value, and would fit right in for an October marathon if you can find it on DVD. 

~ Shaun

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Holy Plot Holes, Batman!

Sometimes, it just happens that we miss something. A paragraph, or even a single sentence which makes no sense given what happens throughout the rest of the story. These are commonly called Plot Holes.

A perfect example of this would be Buzz from the movie Toy Story. Basically, if he really didn't believe he was a toy, he wouldn't have acted like it when Andy (or his parents) entered the room. Kinda throws off the whole movie, huh?

These things do slip through the cracks though. It's to be expected when you have a novel of 60,000, 70,000, or 100,000 words. Plot holes in books usually only last a single sentence or a paragraph, even if their repercussions span the entire work. In the Toy Story example above, Buzz pretty much does that through the entire movie. Pretending to be a toy whenever any human enters the room, even though he swears he's not one. Effectually, the whole movie falls apart if you think about it too long.

Of course, this is one of the things a good developmental editor looks for. Although, for holes that span the entire book, there's not much that can be done. Still, the more consistent you can make your work, the better it'll be. A big enough plot hole, even an irrelevant one, can pull the reader out of your story and that's the last thing you want.

If you have mind-control slime that takes people over at the slightest touch, your heroine can't take a bunch of it in the face without effect or explanation

If you establish that your town has a single road in and out, you can't set up a military roadblock and then have a character from out of town just show up in town like nobody's business.

I'm certainly not going to claim my own works are hole free. I had a minor one in my book Class 5 that I actually had pointed out to me in a few reviews. I took advantage of it being self-published to fix it though and upload the new version, but it was there, and I'm sure there's a few more that I still haven't caught.

My own plot hole that I fixed was simply not explaining the reasoning behind my character's actions, which didn't make much sense otherwise. It didn't help that the character in question wasn't in his right mind, so his actions weren't exactly a logical leap for most people. The fix was easy though, a couple sentences where someone questions his actions and he mentions his thinking. Problem solved.

So how to avoid plot holes? That's easy, just keep your eyes and your mind open during the multiple revisions your work should go through before it's published. Hire a good editor to go through your manuscript. Have beta readers give your work the once, or twice over. Basically, do everything you should normally do to make your work the best it can be.

Of course, some things may still slip through the cracks, and some things that are technically plot holes will be the axis upon which your story rotates. In that case, you just have to explain it away as best you can and/or hope nobody notices, like the Toy Story example.

Except everything's going to be noticed eventually, so it may be best to just not worry about it.

Don't worry. Be happy.

~ Shaun