Thursday, September 30, 2010

Just Read: The Yattering and Jack by Clive Barker

"I did write, or rather I adapted, one story of mine - the Yattering and Jack - which is a kind of comedic short story, which came out very so-so as far as I was concerned; I was not happy with it... The problem with network television, the thing you're faced with all the time - [with] horror on network TV - is that it has to be so mild and my horror fiction is not mild, so we're always dealing with the problem of, again, censorship, I'm afraid." – Clive Barker, The Larry King Show

Oh, how I adored The Yattering and Jack! In fact, I read both the short story, and the graphic novel version, and I just kept falling in love with the characters (especially when I saw how awkwardly cute the Yattering was!) haha.

While Barker wasn’t too pleased with this piece, I think it completely succeeded as a darkly comic short story.  I found myself laughing at the Yattering’s struggle, and at the same time secretly chuckling to myself about how Jack decided to handle things; while I felt for Jack at the same time, because it was obvious that the Yattering was (slightly) destroying his life, good ol’ jack would just mutter che sera, sera and get on with his day. 

II think my favorite ploy that the Yattering used was when he would mess with Polo’s cats…especially when he got so frustrated that he just blew the one up!   Plus, I loved that Barker described it by stating, “The effect was spectacular.  The results were gross.”  Short, sweet, and very effective to the setting.  Even when he wrote that, “Polo just cleaned up the cat,” it shows us that Barker doesn’t need to go into a whole lot of detail to explain what is going on, yet still manage to have an effect on the reader. 

However, I’ll admit that I was a little confused where he was going to place his notable sexual images at.  But he didn’t disappoint me; he included a scene when the Yattering had the house all to himself that involved him staring out the window at a naked woman across the street.  He talks about how hard it was knowing that he couldn’t leave the house to go to her, no matter how much he wanted it.  Then, there were also several places that he added some crude sexual humor for comedy… such as: “The Yattering, invisible, sat on the window seat and made obscene gestures at the women, tying knots in its genitalia,” and “For its part, the Yattering was enjoying this orgy of destruction.”  I must admit, I didn’t think he was going to pull it off in this piece, but my man didn’t let me down!  Even the part where Amanda finds a work curling up in the middle of one of the Brussels sprouts, could be looked at as a phallic symbol…


Oh, and did anyone notice that there is a line in the story that says “Let there be blood?”  Do you think the writers from the SAW series ripped Barker off when they made SAW 2 –its catch line being..Oh yes, there will be blood…hmmmmm…. Ok ok, I know it’s not the exact same, but it’s pretty damn close.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Just Read: Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King

“Why don’t you kill yourself? Because I don’t want to, the Rev. Lowe thinks petulantly.  This-whatever it is- is nothing I asked for.  I wasn’t bitten by a world or cursed by a gypsy.  It just …happened.  I picked some flowers for the roses in the church vestry one day last November.  Up by that pretty little cemetery on Sunshine Hill.  I never saw such flowers before…and they were dead before I could get back to town.  They turned black, every one.  Perhaps that was when it started to happen.  No reason to think so, exactly…but I do.  An I won’t kill myself.  They are the animals, not me.” –Stephen King, Cycle of the Werewolf

When I first started the book, I wasn’t sure that I was going to like it, because for the first six or so chapters, it was one repetitious event after the other: We would be introduced to one character, and then they would die by the hands of the werewolf, and so on, and so on.  I did however, like how King meshed romance and horror together in his February chapter while his character, Stella Randolph.  In this case, I thought it worked well because she was up late waiting for her lover, and when the beast came, it was almost like it didn’t matter – plus, I liked the line “Love is like dying.”

I didn’t start getting pulled in until the story hit the month of June, because here we finally got some inkling of a plot unfolding and the dots started to connect.  In this chapter, we find out that a man that normally visits the café is a regular and someone that everyone in town knows, so when it is he that turns into the beast, as a reader, I started going through names that were mentioned, possible witnesses, etc.  Now, I was curious.  And then I’m introduced to little Marty Coslaw.

I though Marty was a great addition/character in this book because it showed how the disadvantaged (not a beast) could take on the advantaged (the werewolf); then King added the fact that Marty was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, thus thickening both the plot and the conflict.  I don’t want to do a bunch of plot summary here, but I did like the fact that the fireworks blowing out one of his eyes was the sole reason behind how Marty ended up identifying Rev. Lowe at the end of the book – shame, shame, Rev. Lowe! Werewolves don’t give out candy on Halloween!

Oh, and I really liked how King kept reiterating the werewolf’s green eye.  After his first encounter with Marty, we view the description of the eye in almost each subsequent kill, so I liked that King kind of emphasized it at the end when the wolf fixes his one eye on Marty before getting two silver bullets pumped into his chest.  But realistically folks, I don’t think there is any way that Marty would have been that calm- adrenaline rush or not.  Yeah, yeah, I know he cries after it is all over… but throughout the entire climax scene of the book, it is like the kid is a fully trained warrior who shows no emotion and knows that there is no way that he is going to lose.  Just seems a little unrealistic to me…and if I’m going to believe that there is a werewolf running around, I want the ending to at least be probable.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Films to Watch out for this October

  1.  My Soul to Take -- Directed by Wes Craven
  2. Let me in -- Directed by Matt Reeves
  3. Case 39 -- Directed by Chrstian Alvart
     Also, be sure to check out:
    The Walking Dead: A television series on AMC that will air this October about a zombie apocalypse where a man is desperately searching for his family which he believes to still be alive...and human

    Picture copied from here

    Jonathan Mayberry – Fight and Action Scenes in Horror

    “The differences in size, the presence of violent intentions, the certainty of a committed aggression by a more powerful enemy define the situation.  We have to start with what we know of the combatants and then build the most logical possible scene around that.” – Jonathan Mayberry, Writers Workshop of Horror

    I found this chapter to be very well written and rather informative for me, because I don’t normally use physical fight scenes in my writings – I’m more of a battle within type of girl (got to love the psychological stuff!).  I did however like how Mayberry spelled it all out for us though, in regards to what one needs to consider when writing a fight scene such as: pre-existing injuries, allergies, pain threshold, etc.  I know I personally wouldn’t have even thought to consider these- I would have been stuck on height, weight and limb length.  Then, on top of that, you have to consider the environment on which the fight is taking place.  So for instance, if it is on top of a building, I should take into consideration the ledges, what time of day it is, what material the characters are standing on (wood, cement, etc.), the temperature and or weather conditions (because what they are wearing might come into play)….

    I personally enjoyed his comments about the type of attacker that one is going up against.  For instance, it is a violent stranger who killed everyone you were close to and is therefore trying to take over the world as you know it…you’re probably not going to have that hard of a time trying to hurt the person.  But, if that evil doer happens to be your lover, friend, or family member, that kind of shakes things up a bit. Sure, some people might have no problem beheading their boyfriend/girlfriend, but for others like me…it might be a tad bit difficult.

    In my case though, I’ll have to actually write some fight scenes before I can go more in depth with this question, since it isn’t a familiar area to me. That is, unless someone is fighting something within themselves... then I'm all over it ;)

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    Writer's Workshop of Horror-- Continued

    “You must write (each story and novel) as if you are trying to convince someone not to commit suicide).” – Gary A. Braunbeck

    This semester, I’m taking a class for the Writing Popular Fiction program that is based on monsters, and one of the books that is under my required reading is Writers Workshop of Horror.  Now, I’ll be honest…I didn’t think I was going to find a better guide than On Writing Horror (edited by Mort Castle), but this book is really starting to win me over.  So far, we have only been assigned to read one chapter, and I think I might have read eleven so far (?).  Frankly, I’m really excited about how much I’m learning, and two chapters have really hit home for me so far: Gary A. Braunbeck’s article “Connecting the Dots,” and Tomas F. Monteleone’s piece “Using Dialogue to Tell Your Story.”

    In Braunbeck’s article, I think what inspired me most was how he said he goes about writing, and how a lot of it was inspired from his acting career.  In reference to starting the process, he writes “ I start with two simple questions, questions that are going to strike you as a bit silly on the surface, but questions that, for me, reveal so much more than what is simply seen: How much milk does  he or she use when having a bowl of cereal?  And:  How does this character put on his- or her coat? (32)”

    Now when I read that, I’ll admit, I thought it was a little strange, but when I kept reading to hear him out on it…I was really surprised but how much you can learn about your character from those simple questions.  So, needless to say, I decided to experiment with one of the characters that I’m using in my novel’s draft, and I’m happy to say that I feel more confident about where my story is going now.  You see, my character is caffeine addict, and drinks coffee like it is her job (since she has two of them to begin with).  But rather than get a big coffee pot, she has the tiny one that only makes two cups at a time.  Why, you ask?  Because she can’t afford to waste anything…and living off of the salary of a waitress, and a part escort (to say it nicely) all while putter herself through school full-time, she just doesn’t have it in her to  splurge if she doesn’t have to; ergo the fact that her bed is simply a tattered mattress on the floor, she has an old, emptied coffee can filled with spare change from cheap customers (see how the coffee came back), and her comforter is an afghan that she knitted herself a couple years back.  I could go on, but you get the point.  Amazing huh?  I feel like I’m learning more and more about my character as I do this, and yeah, I probably won’t mention how of the stuff that I’m discovering, but at least I will be able to use that information later on when it comes to introduces dialogue…which frankly, is my not-so-favorite-part of writing.

    So dialogue is my Achilles heel, and hey, I’m sure every writer has one…but mine is, let’s just say…really fragile, but thanks to Monteleone’s article, at least I have a pretty good idea of why I’m screwing up.  For instance, since I’m bad at it, I tend to use it really sparingly… ok, ok….so it’s barely there! But I know, especially from personal experience, that when I see those long, drawn out paragraphs page, after page, after page…I’m really not to pumped to read the book, so how I can expect my readers to be?  Monteleone talks about how dialogue is a cleverly disguised trick that allows the book to gain speed…which is so true when you think about it (I guess I just never did, until now).

    So what else did I learn from this you ask… HA that I’m pretty much doing everything wrong, hence why I’m falling in love with this book so much! It’s helping me hone my skills and teaching me aspects of writing that I probably wouldn’t have learned until I start graduate school in a year or so.  As an overview, here is what I grasped:

    • 1.       Sometimes I tend to write way more than I need to, and don’t give my readers the benefit of the doubt that they probably know what is going on.  So in this case, having my character say nothing is really all that they would need.
    • 2.       I hate constantly using he said, or she said…so I normally throw in something like he screamed, or she yelled (get the drift?).  Frankly, now that I look back on it, it’s just stupid, unless my characters are in a seriously heated argument. 
    • 3.       Then, to continue on that, I love adding those silly little adverbs to cover up my dislike for the he said she said drama. So I’ll put he said mysteriously, or something like that.  Point blank….I’m not supposed to do that.  No wonder I always feel like I’m being lame when I’m writing dialogue, because I am, hahaha.

    I would def. recommend this book to anyone that is focused on writing horror, because it has helped me out so much, and is continuing to do so with every chapter I read.