Categories
Favorite Things The Stream Writing Resources

The Night Mind Index

I am a huge fan of the YouTube channel Night Mind.

I would never be one of those people that would go all “I was following these guys before they were cool,” I’ve been a follower for a long time. I love to see the care and that they put into their videos and analysis.

So when I learned they were putting their work into a user-generated collection of ARGs and unfiction, I was very excited.

It’s been live for a while and I do like checking in and seeing what’s going on.

If you have any interest in interactive fiction, ARGs, or horror and mystery, this is a great resource to check out.

You can find it HERE.

And if you want more? Check out ARGNet.

Categories
My Projects Screenwriting Things I Learned Writing

Six Things I Learned Writing “Snake Bite”

(I’m shamelessly stealing this format from the incredible and incomparable Chuck Wendig. Read his books!)

Snake Bite is the story of a female police officer escorting a prisoner to the site of his most recent murder. But when the prisoner’s brother, the leader of a notorious gang, ambushes the cops to free the prisoner, the cop has to fight to survive the day and keep a dangerous murderer from being freed.

So I finally got my feature-length screenplay Snake Bite to a point that I’m okay with other people looking at it and, whoo boy, that was a wild ride. How can a screenplay be simultaneously the easiest and the hardest thing to create?

I decided that completing my fourth feature screenplay would be a good time for some self-reflection, so without further ado…

Categories
Story Ideas/Inspiration

Link: The SOS Sign Incident

This is a deeply creepy story and one that I’m definitely adding to the story ideas and inspiration library.

It would be a very effective story if it weren’t true.

Categories
Student Resources Things I Learned Writing

A Few Things I Learned about Horror Listening to The Magnus Archives

Yes, I am extremely behind the times but I am firmly in the fandom now.

The Magnus Archives is in its final season, and I finally took my podcast app’s advice and started to listen at the beginning. It’s a masterclass in long form and short form horror and suspense. The larger narrative unfolds almost organically, with hints that begin almost immediately and payoffs that might wait episodes and episodes to pop.

The individual episodes are amazing. Each is deeply creepy in its own individual way, but it’s also fun once the overarching story becomes clear to go back and see those hints to the greater horror.

You can make the best horror yourself

The audio/podcast medium of the Magnus Archives means that the listener is left to imagine the horrors described themselves. Often the descriptors and subtle acting are just enough to let the audience create in their imagination something more horrible than what might be able to achieve in any other media.

I say it might be more effective than even prose, because we are engaging with a sense that is often far more intimate than reading words on a page. Someone is telling us a story, telling it just to us, and that is special because it creates an intimate connection not only with the person telling the story but the story itself.

That extra little bit of verisimilitude goes a long way. It makes things feel a little bit more “true.”

Don’t let the bigger narrative get in the way of this episode’s story

Like you might have guessed, I am a fan of the bigger story in the Magnus Archives.

The whole thing is set up very cleverly. Each episode is the written account of a paranormal experience that is usually read off by the head archivist of the Magnus institute. Two seasons are dedicated to doing things this way, firmly establishing the world of the story using accounts of side characters within the bigger narrative.

The bigger picture in the early seasons are hinted at by the notes that the archivist leaves after each account, talking about further research and follow up that could be done.

It’s a very interesting pattern, almost a fractal.

The important thing is that each account stands alone, even if they are a big piece of the greater mystery. Only once those rules of the universe are established (and firmly) do the creators think to expand on that established structure.

What would cosmic horror look like to the normal person?

The hardest thing about cosmic horror to me is the idea that it would exist completely unnoticed.

If you read Lovecraft, you’d know that horrors, monsters, and old ones are seen by a lot of people. And everyone seems pretty chill about it. This seems to imply that, while it might not be common, the horrors and unknown are at least understood to exist by people. Miskatonic University has a library of books well known enough that people study and try and steal them. And going back, Bram Stoker’s Dracula had its character of Van Helsing to come in and understand the horror of the vampire and give information to the protagonists so they can fight their evil.

In modern mythos how this is handled goes a couple different ways. Either it’s a thing that happens, there is a society, cult, or organization that covers it up, or it is a novel phenomena that is just discovered. But where there are people, there are store cashiers, grocery store workers, and random strangers on the street who are going to interact with them. To think that nobody’s going to notice weird shit happening, especially if the story takes place in any kind of populated center, is kind of ludicrous.

And when you do notice this particular plot whole you start seeing it everywhere. It does open some very interesting avenues of underdeveloped potential.

What would happen if you lived next door to a death worshipping cult? Or in the apartment underneath someone who’s been taken over by a cosmic horror?

The Magnus Archive knows!

These stories are told from the point of view of the NPCs or background characters. They have no idea that they are part of a much larger, much more frightening narrative. Their passive brush up against the uncanny might have left horrible personal scars, but they have no idea how close they were to absolute disaster.

It’s a great conceit and one that really could only work in a long form, episodic format.

If you haven’t had the chance, now is the perfect time to go and binge the Magnus Archives.

Categories
Uncategorized

Happy New Year

I know that I am in the minority for being able to say that 2020 came out in a net positive for me, and for that I am extremely grateful.

My hopes for the coming year include continuing on this journey of self discovery and progress while working to build up my creative life, both professionally and personally.

I can only hope for the world the same thing I hope for myself:

That we continue to grow and progress from a dark and frightening place to a world of knowledge, growth, and peace.

I’m reminded of the song The Impossible Dream from The Man from La Mancha:

This is my Quest, to follow that Star
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To fight for the right, without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true, to this glorious quest,
That my heart will lie will lie peaceful and calm
when I’m laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this

Categories
Uncategorized

Site News: Welp

Well, the PDF embed plug in used has gone to a subscription service, so that means I will be on the hunt for a new option.

Until then, my portfolio is going to look a little bare.


In other news, I do have a few very exciting projects on the horizon that are going to really be an incentive to making this website and blog a priority. So you can expect to see much more content coming through here.


If you are coming in from Carol Benanti’s screenwriting class, one of the things you can look forward to is a written adaptation of my history of the screenplay format lecture. That is going to be a multi-part series so keep an eye on this space.

Categories
Life

Continuing Education

Since I graduated, I’ve had this really restless feeling. It turns out, after some honest self-analysis, I really like learning stuff. (Go figure, took me long enough.)

I have a lot of time on my hands, so I’m really trying to keep up on that continuing education. Part of that is studying my craft and analyzing films and screenplays. Another part is stretching my story telling muscles by branching out into different mediums.

I was never very good at making games in Twine, so I dedicated a little bit of my free time to getting good at it. Every game I think I finished tells me a little bit more, and I’m finally polishing up Twine games that I’d be willing to share.

But I really wanted to learn how to code. Like, big boy, actual functioning code, not just scripting in Twine.

Well. About that.

So, Twine 1 was written in Python, so a lot of what I’m learning about how to set up code in Python seems vaguely familiar. Knowing how to script in Twine was just the baby steps I needed to get in the door with Python, and for that I am grateful.

Humble Bundle recently had a Python programming bundle from No Starch Press, and I have to say God bless No Starch Press. They have books designed to teach coding to children, and it really is a great introduction to whatever you want to learn. Their Twine for Kids book really helped me with making my Twine games more than just text, and their Python for Kids really laid everything out in an easy to understand way without talking to the reader like a child.

I may try and adapting a few of my Twine games into Python (I’m thinking a Zork-style Common Folk text adventure game could be very fun.) so I’ll update if that actually happens.

Categories
My Projects Screenwriting Writing

NEW SHORT SCRIPT: Blood Oranges

So I’ve been listening to a lot of feedback from people about how I should try and write shorter scripts to sell. So I’m trying to shorten my scripts to around five pages, but this one is very short, coming up to a whopping 2 1/8 pages.

While it is a little bit more of a sketch, I would really love to see this made in time for Halloween or some spooky autumn shenanigans.

I’m posting it to my Scripts for Sale page, so you can continue to find it there. And remember, if you’re a student and cannot pay for the scripts you produce, contact me and we’ll figure something out.

Categories
Favorite Things Life Life Hacks

So, I’m trying speed reading…

It turns out I hoard ebooks just as much as I hoard physical books. I love me a Humble Bundle stacked with interesting and unusual knowledge. Project Gutenberg is my jam. Give me that sweet, sweet free Tor download, baby, and heck yeah I’ll sign up for your newsletter.

Worth it.

But! This means that I have a not inconsiderable backlog of really cool stuff that I’m struggling to find time to put into my eyeballs. My digital “To-Read” pile is growing, not quite exponentially… But close.

It all started (cue Star Wars crawl) months and months ago when I read an article that I swear exists but cannot find now (thanks, technology) about speed reading. I thought it was interesting, but there weren’t a lot of apps for it, so I ended up downloading a Chrome extension and trying it out.

It’s super weird, you guys.

Instead of having your eyes flow across text, you focus on a single point and the words are flashed in front of your eyes. Because you don’t have to keep your place on a page, you’re able to take in more words per minute.

This takes a little bit of getting used to, since your eyes are pretty much trained to be moving along a line of text when you’re reading. In most apps I’ve seen, this is fixed by designating a place on the screen to focus your gaze, by highlighting a word or even a letter towards the center of the word.

Screenshot from the Reedy Android app showing the featured image of an astronaut on the lunar surface, the headline, "Making a documentary that extends past one lunar landing," and the opening paragraph of the article on a black background with the speed reading controls along the bottom of the screen.
Screenshot from the Reedly App. You can see the speed reading controls along the bottom, and please ignore my stuffed notification bar.

And it works! Once I got the hang of it, I was really able to crank up the words-per-minute on my laptop from 300 wpm to around 500 wpm. But because I don’t do a lot of hardcore reading on my laptop, I didn’t use it as much as I should.

Smash cut to a couple months later, when I was scrolling through the Play Store and Reedly came up in my recommendation

I downloaded the app to my phone last week and I’ve been having a lot of fun absolutely blazing through a collection of MIT Essential Knowledge books I got in a Humble Bundle a couple months ago.

Screenshot of the Reedly app in speed reading mode
Speed reading in action! You focus on the highlighted word.

I’ve been looking into this and the research is fascinating. For some people, this is an effective way to speed up your reading. But while some people claim that they can read at a speed of 1000 words per minute, the research suggests that anything over 400-500 words overloads your brain’s short term memory and you cannot retain the information you’re reading.

My personal experience would seem to bear this out. I’ve settled on about 450 words per minute, which is fast enough to get through things quickly, but I don’t lose comprehension. It’s the same for both fiction and non-fiction.

I’d suggest everyone give it a try. While I haven’t found a speed-reader app I like on iOS, Reedy is a solid choice on Android. In addition to the speed reading mode, Reedy also has a regular reading mode, and a text to voice mode so you can listen to your books while you’re doing other things.

Categories
Favorite Things Uncategorized

I had no idea that the new Vampire: The Masquerade video game was announced with an ARG

I don’t play video games like I used to, which is unfortunate. But it’s E3 season, which means I’m drooling over new trailers like Charlie Bucket smashing his face up in the window of the candy store. I want it all, but there’s no way I can afford it.

But in a weird crossover, one of my favorite YouTube channels, Night Mind, recently posted a very in depth breakdown of the ARG “Tender,” a promotional campaign for the new Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2.

It’s long, but worth a watch. They really breakdown the different elements of the game and how they fit together. It’s a good analysis of an ARG and a good case study to look at if you ever think of creating one of your own.

There’s also a really good interview with the writer at around the forty minute mark where they go into detail about the process of creating the ARG and what it was like working on it.