Posts Tagged ‘Star Wars’

As you guys know by now, I’m a pretty dedicated horror fan. I read a lot of horror novels and watch a lot of horror movies, I decorate my apartment with horror knick-knacks (just the other day, a Jason Voorhees mask and Funko doll arrived for me from Amazon), and of course, I write a ton of horror. Only thing is, lately I’ve been writing a lot of science fiction, and that’s getting a little old.

The hockey mask looks good on us.

I’ve been working on Full Circle, the final book in the Reborn City series I’ve been working on since high school, since November. And as of the completion of the latest chapter this morning (finished it in just a little over an hour. Do you know how rarely that happens?), I’m just under halfway through the first draft. And while I’m still dedicated to finishing the first draft and the series itself, I’m getting a little tired of the constant sci-fi. Don’t get me wrong, I love science fiction. Doctor Who is one of my favorite shows, after all, and I get as geeky as anyone else when I think about The Last Jedi coming out this winter.

But check the About page of this blog. I’m a horror writer, and all this sci-fi gets a little wearisome. I want to dip back into the world of ghosts, ghouls, serial killers, and all other manner of monsters that go bump in the night.

Plus, I’ve mentioned before that I’m trying to publish more horror short stories, as I’m trying the traditional route again and publishing short stories is a good way to do that. Can’t publish horror short stories if I’m constantly working on sci-fi.

So with that in mind, I’m taking a break from Full Circle to do a little short story writing. I’m going to first write a short story that I had the idea for a couple months back, and then I’m going to edit The Playroom, a short story I wrote back in late 2015 and have not touched since. I think it’s about time I took a look at that one again, and then see if I can get it in a magazine or an anthology. After those are both done, I should be good to get back to work on Full Circle (though if I need to, I’ll write another short story). I have a feeling that starting with the next chapter, it’s going to be hard to stop writing this one anyway, so this is a good time to take a break and slake my thirst for horror.

Until next time, Followers of Fear. And may the terror be with you…always.

About three years ago, I wrote a post on in media res, a plot device often utilized across various media of fiction. I’d like to revisit the subject, because I’ve had some thoughts on this particular writing tool since then and I wanted to write about them. And since I’m running this blog, talk about it I shall!

So if you’re not familiar with in media res (Latin for “into the middle things”), it’s a plot device in literature where the story opens in the middle of the action, rather than beginning with exposition. Background information is usually filled in through dialogue, flashbacks, or having a nonlinear narrative. An example of a story that starts in media res is Raiders of the Lost Ark: you don’t get a Star Wars screen crawl, or an opening narration, but you just hop into Indy heading into a temple to get a famous statue. Another great example of the usage of the plot device is A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin. No history on the Seven Kingdoms, just getting plopped into a patrol with three brothers of the Night’s Watch, and some Others attacking them.

I’v used this device in a lot of my works. Reborn City starts out with Zahara and her family going out to dinner, with backstory and world-building reserved for Chapter 2. Snake begins in a church, with information being dropped through exposition and flashbacks throughout the book. My short story Travelers of the Loneliest Roads literally starts on the road, and a lot of works that I’m working to get out to you, dear Followers, start out this way.

Overall, I feel it’s a good way to start a story. In fact, it might be my favorite way to start a story. Rather than doing a bunch of backstory, like “Forty years from now, the war on terror spirals into a chaotic Third World War that leads to a bunch of new countries and city-states. In one city-state, Reborn City, which is ruled by the Parthenon Company, there’s a powerful gang called the Hydras. Now onto the story of Zahara Bakur,” we start with Zahara and the events that lead her to becoming a Hydra.

However, in media res has to be done delicately. I realized this as I was editing a short story of mine last night.The story started out with the protagonist running for her life, then flashed back rather quickly to how she ended up running for her life, and then went back to her running her life. I was like, “Why did I think this was a good idea in the first draft?” I actually had to go back and rearrange the story so that everything goes into chronological order. The story moves much better now (though I may nix that beginning part and have it start in the meat of the story. We’ll see after the second draft’s done).

So with that in mind, I thought I’d list some tips to starting a story in media res and doing it well, with the hope other writers might avoid some of my mistakes with this plot device:

  • Make it easy to slide in for the reader. When I first read A Game of Thrones, I had to go over the first chapter twice just to make sure I understood what was happening. After a bit of examination, I understood what was happening a bit better, though I still was a bit confused. Not a good way to introduce me to Westeros, but the rest of the novel made up for that.
    Point is, when starting a story in media res, make sure that all readers, whether they’re expecting one thing or another thing or nothing at all, that they can dive into the story without wondering what the heck they’re reading or if they missed something. You don’t need to be overly-simplistic with your language or story, you just have to make it easy to follow so that readers have a good idea what is happening while they’re reading.
  • Don’t move too quickly into the information. Remember that short story I just mentioned? I had a quick beginning, and then I dived right into a flashback. Made no sense on a second look. Wait for a moment where it won’t throw people off, and then try and make the segue into the flashback make sense.
  • Whatever’s happening has to hook the reader. By definition, in media res starts a story in the middle of the action, so you want to make sure that the first line is catchy. It doesn’t have to start with running for your life, gunfights, or anything like that, but it has to be somewhat catchy. This could be something as ordinary as a girl walking into a classroom with soda in her hair (my own short story, Tigress Lizzy), as long as it’s interesting to read. How you do that depends on language and skill as much as what is happening in the story, though with practice you can get very good at it.

However you want to begin a story, the point is to hook your readers so that they’ll read the rest of the book. In media res is just one way to do that, but it’s a fun way to do it. And with time and experience, you can get better at it. You might even learn a thing or two in mid-edits.

How do you feel about in media res? What tips do you have for doing it well?

It’s Friday again, so you know what that means. It’s #FirstLineFriday! Also known as “that blogging trend Rami Ungar’s trying to start with mixed results.” Here are the rules:

  1. You write a post titled #FirstLineFriday (hashtag and all)
  2. You explain the rules like I’m doing now
  3. You post the first one or two lines of a potential story, story-in-progress, or completed or published work.
  4. Finally, you ask your readers for feedback.

This week’s entry comes from another story I came up with in high school, and it has some influences from both Stephen King and some slasher movies from the 80’s. Enjoy:

She had to hide, and quickly too. Mitch was coming, and he sounded angry.

Thoughts? Comments? Let’s discuss.

That’s all for now. I’m glad the weekend is here, especially since that means Star Wars has finally arrived. I’m going to see the movie Tuesday during a matinee performance. Should be good (but if anyone spoils the film for me, I will make them regret it). Have a good weekend, my Followers of Fear!

I come from a family where it’s typical for most of us to obsess over certain TV shows, books or movies. One of those things that we love is Harry Potter. Around my mother’s house you will find copies of each book (sometimes more than one), the movies on DVD or VHS, a couple of wands and my mother’s acceptance letter to Hogwarts (apparently you can get those), and a few other knickknacks. Plus two very strange cats. When I told my mom that on Pottermore I’d been sorted into Slytherin, she considered not talking to me for a while (but does that choice surprise any of you?). And at some point soon, my mom and her partner, my stepmom, will be heading down to Florida, where my mom plans to visit Harry Potter World.

But that doesn’t mean that we’re above poking fun at the thing we love or pointing out the flaws. For example, my family is pretty much in agreement that the fact that Harry grew up with the Dursleys and was such a good person despite the abuse and isolation he suffered is very improbable. As I finished the conversation one evening after a long car-ride discussing HP, “At the very least he should have some self-esteem and trust issues. At the very worst he should be a full-on sociopath to rival Voldemort in evil.”

“I grew up in a broken home. Don’t mess with me, baldy.”

One of these days I’ll have to revisit the trope of the righteous orphan in literature, but now is not the time or the place.

The point is, this small flaw is one of a few that people could point out and make a big deal about in the HP series. In fact, if you look at many different works of literature, TV shows, and movies, you’re bound to find something that doesn’t make sense if you really think about it. Even if you don’t count the prequels, there’s some stuff about the Star Wars films that don’t add up (*cough* Princess Leia’s adoption and royal status *cough*). All of Frozen could’ve been avoided if the King and Queen had actually tried to help their daughter instead of trying to shut up her growing powers (but where would the fun in that be?). And don’t get me started on some of the stuff that happens in some comic books and superhero films. Or Hunger Games.

And there are people who LOVE pointing out these flaws to audience, sometimes making it difficult to enjoy these things ever again. How It Should Have Ended, CinemaSins, Nostalgia Critic, so many more. These guys love deconstructing these things and pointing out their flaws. It’s enough to make you want to root out every plot hole you can find in your story so that you don’t get caught in the web of these guys. Or you might just be too afraid to write at all.

The thing is, no story is perfect. Harry Potter is one of the bestselling franchises in the world, yet it’s not free of flaws. And look at Doctor Who! I’m a huge Whovian, yet I’ll admit that it sometimes  falters in the stories it tells (honestly, I thought I’d throw a shoe at the TV after I saw Kill the Moon. What an awful story that makes no sense!). Heck, I’ll admit I have stories that aren’t problem-free. The latter half of Snake has been criticized in the past of being slightly a little hard to justify (though not outside the realm of possibility). And if I learned one thing from my creative writing class, my short stories “Evil Began in a Bar” and “What Happened Saturday Night/Frauwolf”, will need several drafts. Heck, the latter is going to need one more draft before I can even think about submitting it somewhere. Don’t even get me started on the former.

What you have to keep in mind is that you can’t stress over the teeniest, tiniest detail and hoping there’s not something some blogger or YouTube producer or whatever is going to seize upon and make it into a reason to destroy the book. First worry about the big stuff. For example, if you have a plot that basically goes “In a world everyone has a gun but no one uses them, until someone does”, people are going to definitely look at that one and be like, “Say what?” Hash out the big details first. Then worry about the smaller ones. And know that you won’t get them all. Just try and make sure the ones you don’t get are ones that won’t really matter in the end.

“You are of questionable royal lineage and you will need to undergo a blood test. Take her away!”

Sure, Princess Leia’s adoption would probably draw some questions, maybe even the attention of the Empire. Doesn’t mean that it has to draw the attention of the Empire and Leia’s real father Vader. Or that Star Wars isn’t still one of the most awesome stories in the universe (and I count even the prequels, though I’m a little iffy on Episode III).

Keep that in mind for your own work as well. Nothing’s ever perfect, but it can still be great.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Hope you enjoyed this slightly-rambling post. I’m taking the rest of the night off. You have a good one, and remember to check out my big holiday sale. All books are marked down till December 31st, so check them out now while you got the chance.

Pleasant nightmares.