Wednesday, March 14, 2018

You Find a Sword... You Pick it Up

And that's an example of second-person point-of-view (or POV, if you want to sound all writerly and stuff), or perspective. It's a troublesome and bothersome way of writing. Always reminds me of those early text adventure games, pre-decent computer graphics. You open the door. There's a troll. You kill the troll.

Not many folks use second-person, mainly because, well, it just doesn't let the reader enter the story.

But I'm reading an entertaining book, Hollywood Rat Race, an insider's view of the Hollywood movie industry. It's written by Ed Wood, Jr.

Yes, that Ed Wood. Mr. Ed "Plan 9" Wood. Most books written in second-person, I'll drop in a second. But there's just something, I don't know, endearing, about Ed's book. He writes as though he's addressing an audience full of wannabe actors, and he does a great job of telling what the Hollywood system was like. The ups and downs, no sugar-coating.

Here's one quick example: "Your acting teachers can teach you the fundamentals of acting but you must find the true emotion by doing."

It may not work for everyone, but it works for me. Maybe only Ed Wood can get away with it.

Keep writing, friends.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Few More Lessons Along the Editing Road

Just a few more pointers about editing, both during and after the editing process. As much as anything else, this is to record a few things to remind myself of for my next editing session. But, maybe my writer friends will benefit, too. I hope so. Think of me as the buddy in the canoe that helps you find the rocks before you hit them.

  • This is sort of an after-the-fact tip, and a two-parter:
    • Editing is not writing. Yeah, you'll write some new stuff during editing, but you need to have a writing project going to keep the creative juices flowing. Keep a journal, a blog, or just notes to yourself about the day's editing. Nothing major, though, as you want to keep the fires lit for your main editing.
    • Take a lesson from me. Don't take, uh, I'm embarrassed to admit it, up to two years off from your work. That actually applies more to the actual writing, but you get the idea. I'd get all whiny and mopey. Take breaks, sure, but not two years. Yeah, note to self.
  • Like Tears For Fears sang: Shout shout let it all out. You can read your work on the page or computer screen all you want, but I strongly recommend reading it aloud. That's the best way to hear the tone of your work, and especially, the pauses. You'll hear better when you need a comma, a period, or whatever other punctuation du jour you prefer.
    • And you know all those rules we learned about not placing commas here and there? Yeah, well, they're mostly... suggestions. Especially when it comes to dialogue. You might have a character that pauses all the time, or is gasping for breath, or speaks in all run-on sentences. Yes, it's perfectly acceptable to have run-on sentences. But you won't be able to tell for certain until you read your work aloud.
Well, that's about enough for now. Time for me to move along and you to get started editing or writing or whatever.

Oh, that reminds me. One quick news item afore I go. I'm going to split this blog up into two here in the next month or so--one blog for writing, the other for movies, horror and otherwise. I keep bouncing back and forth, and it'll be easier to keep track of stuff if I do it that way.

Keep writing, friends.

Friday, March 2, 2018

And It's Away!

So, I've been away for a bit. Not away physically, but away form my blog. Mentally away, in a sense, too, as I've been immersed the last month-and-a-half completing the edits on my novel, DragonFox. What was the rush, you might ask? Well, I had a one-on-one with an agent who wanted to see the full manuscript, and I wasn't even up to page 100 on final edits of my 380 page book. So, I had a deadline.

Now, since it's flown away, I wait to hear back. But I need to keep the writing fires lit, so here I am. Also, I have plans for other writing projects. Ultimately, I visualize three books total in the DragonFox series. I just need to write a little more regularly next time around. Else I'll be wrapping the books up when I'm in my nineties, as this first one took an embarrassing fourteen years to finish. I had times where I'd stop for a couple of years at a time. Don't want to do that again.

At any rate, I've picked up a couple of pointers along the way of editing I thought I'd share. Nothing earth-shattering, just a couple of suggestions. Here goes:

First, dialog and description are two separate things. Grammar rules and whatnot may apply (more on that in a second) to description, but your characters have their own way of talking. Some may speak in cliches, some may have poor grammar, some will have unique speech patterns. One of my characters never used contractions, for example. So, take critiques with a grain of salt that go after the way your characters speak.

Back to that description grammar rule thing I mentioned. Yes, some grammar rules should be followed (stress the should), but your writer's style needs to come into play. I use the words 'and' and 'but' to begin sentences at times. Remember how that was verboten in English class? Yeah, me too. Well, guess what? When I talk, I use 'and' and 'but' a lot at the beginning of sentences. I just need to watch that I don't do it all the time.

Uh, okay, I don't want to wear out my welcome here. Got a tad long-winded, so I'll continue with the other suggestions in my next post.

Keep writing, friends. And yes, I know I was going to make this blog all about horror, so I may need to do another blog that's all horror and this one will be about writing. Need to think about that.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Be Careful When Fishing, You Might Catch a Dragon

And that's exactly what happened to the young John Lambton on Easter Sunday, 1420. In preparation for my novel that has a little sword-play, a little sorcery, and a lot of dragon, here is my short poem about the Lambton Worm:

The Lambton Worm's a fearsome beast
Vicious and poisonous to say the least
A young fisher snagged it in a lake
The fisher, grown, worm's life he must take

Keep writing, friends, and keep watching horror movies.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Not Very Crafty

Okay, I admit. I was desperate. I wanted to watch something with a bit of witchery and warlockery. And The Craft was on. I remember seeing trailers years ago, so I thought I'd take a look-see. Fortunately, three-fourths of it was over, so I only had to suffer through about half an hour.

Just couldn't stand the teenage angst and high school pettiness dragged into what could've been some decent scenes with sorcery, demons, and whatnot. But no, the overacting and the ridiculous power plays drove me to distraction. Thought it'd at least be a little like The Witches of Eastwick.

Now that I think of it, though, I didn't care much for Eastwick, either.

Have I become too curmudgeonly?

Ah, well, keep writing, friends. And keep watching horror movies.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Were There Seven Headstones... or Eight?

Well, we end up with eight in The House of Seven Corpses (no, not gables). But that's one of the questions John Carradine's character, Edgar Price kinda sorta answers. He's the caretaker of the Beal house, and he knows there are eight graves, seven headstones, but he doesn't know who the heck is in the eighth grave. Ah, well, we lose count, anyway, in this updated (1974 updated, that is) old dark house fright flick.

First, a couple of items out of the way first. It's a bit draggy at times, even a tad inconsistent occasionally (was that a daylight shot or a nighttime?), and a fight scene looks a bit amateurish. But the film has heart. And it's an interesting idea.

A movie within a movie, Eric Hartman (John Ireland) is a driven director who is gonna have a conniption fit if his movie isn't made on time and within budget. He's filming a horror flick containing some o' that old black magic in a house that has a murderous past. It's rumored that the previous residents even dabbled in the black arts.

Naturally, one of the crew discovers a leather-bound book, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, that has some spells they can lift for their witchly filming sequences. 'Course, you know what happens. Yep. They start reading the spells, and the occupants in the graves in the backyard get a little active. Now, we're not talking fast zombies here. These guys take forever just to make it across the yard. They do, however, want to do a little housekeeping.

Quick point here. The Tibetan Book of the Dead in reality has nothing to do with black magic.

There are some good, suspenseful moments, and it's fun to see and hear some real movie-making talk. And the makeup on the slow-walking dead is good. All in all, a fun fright flick. Worth a watch.

You also get to see Faith Domergue as the lead actor. I remember her from This Island Earth.

Keep writing, and keep watching horror.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Ray Bradbury, Poet of the Fantastic

Found this little gem a while back at the ReStore, our local branch of Habitat for Humanity. We've discovered some great books there, just rummaging around.

Ah, Mr. Bradbury, you've done it again. The Autumn People is a Ballantine Books paperback collection of Ray's work, all illustrated, published in October of 1965. They originally appeared in EC Comics. I always knew Ray had the darkness within him that he's share with us, and here's proof. And the illustrations by artists like Johnny Craig, Jack Davis, George Evans, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen, and Joe Orlando blend perfectly with his stories.

As Ray has said, "Beware the autumn people." And here we have eight wonderfully macabre stories proving that point. We have killer babies, women screaming from six feet under, and do-it-yourself funerals. There are people who deserve what they get, and others that don't. So, if it's good wintertime (or any other season) shivers you want, I hope you track this book down.

Keep writing, friends. And happy nightmares.