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BBC’s Dracula: Series 1 Episode 1 – Review

So, I guess I’m a pretty big fan of Dracula. He’s a blood-sucking nightmare of a vampire with a charming demeanour and a dark, unsavoury sense of humour… what’s not to love? However, no matter how many Dracula adaptions we get – and we get a lot – there never seems to be a really loveable characterisation. I mean sure, we’ve had some great Dracula adaptions. Christopher Lee’s Dracula will always be in our hearts and Gary Oldman certainly did a brilliant job but, when it comes to capturing the essence of the Dracula lore itself, something always seems a bit off. From your romantic, overly-sensual historic lord to your hilariously cliched evil villain, Dracula has had a pretty rough time lately.

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So, when Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat announced their 2020 Dracula adaption, I was instantly intrigued. With a reputation for brilliant characterisation and witty dialogue, the writing and directing duo were bound to throw Dracula back on the map, right?

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BBC’s Dracula starts us off in the Victorian age, introducing us to the reputable Mr Jonathan Harker (John Heffernan), a lawyer interested in the residence that is home to the Count himself (Claes Bang). Of course, to poor Mr Harker’s discovery, Count Dracula isn’t quite the man he appears to be. But Dracula certainly isn’t without his adversaries. Facing off against the witty and exceedingly determined Nun Agatha (Dolly Wells), it soon becomes a terrifying cat and mouse game for the ages. _110368509_dracula1_976[1].jpghttps://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-50972189

Claes Bang oozes with charisma as the title character Count Dracula from the very moment he shows up on screen. He embodies the exact kind of monster horror-fans have all been waiting for – a truly frightening and yet somehow lovable mix between elegance and complete animalistic cruelty. With all his quirks, quips and horrifyingly hilarious puns, Claes Bang plays probably the best version of Dracula we’ve seen to date.

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Full of action, gore and wit, Dracula was everything I expected to see from a Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffit adaption of Bram Stoker’s classic. With stunning cinematography, Dracula’s castle comes to life in a new dark, gritty style, adding a true dread to this ninety-minute horror. Although there’s definitely room for improvement when it comes to special effects, it’s never unbelievable enough to take away from the story and manages to make the episode just that little bit more unsettling.

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And unsettling is certainly a great way to describe this episode. As Johnathon Harker delves deeper and deeper into this sensational castle, he begins to unravel a chain of terrifying secrets that are bound to, quite literally, change his life forever. With vividly gruesome twists around each corner and a brilliant use of psychological dialog, Dracula constantly leaves you on the edge of your seat, just waiting for the next reveal.

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Overall, I had a lot of fun with this episode. With a brilliant cast, fantastic direction and witty writing, BBC’s Dracula manages to be one of the best horror shows on TV. 

 

Check out BBC’s Dracula on Netflix Now!

 

 

writing advice

Writing and Publishing Workplace Information

At your workplace, you will come across a range of different information. As a staff member of your company, it is your job to ensure that the information you receive is transferred into a document of the appropriate format.
Understanding the format your information must take and how it must be published or sent to others can often be confusing. However, there are a number of steps you can take to make you pick the write format and publishing method for your information.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How

When writing a document, consider:

Who does the information apply to (eg. all staff members within the workplace)?
What
information is the document sharing (eg. there is a BBQ lunch held on Friday)?
Where is the event/subject of the message held (eg. The BBQ lunch is held in the lunchroom, the new photocopier can be found in the administration office)?
When does the message apply (eg. The BBQ is on Friday at 12pm, the new photocopier is to be installed Thursday at 10am)?
Why are you writing this document (eg. To inform all staff members of a BBQ lunch this Friday, to let all relevant staff know there will be a new photocopier installed)?
How is the message meant to be conveyed (eg. the BBQ message must be sent to all staff members and received over the few days)? Some messages may be urgent and require a fast response from the receiver.

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Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

Formats and Their Uses

There are a range of different formats that can be used to convey a message and many of these formats can be used for multiple different types of messages. However, it is up to you to find the format that is best suited for the tone of the message, purpose of the message and the audience who will receive the message.

Email – Use email when you need to send a short-to-lengthy message. Emails are best used for queeries – as they are easy for receivers to respond to – and to pass on information – as they allow for lengthy peices of information to be added and can be sent to multiple different receivers.

Letter – Letters are used when non-urgent information must be sent (as emails can take a long time to send), and it usually best used for thank-you letters and updating customers/clients and other businesses. Bills and statements are also often sent in letter form, as they allow clients to physically bring their bill into banks, post offices or the business the bill originated from, in order to pay them. Patients may also wish to pay the bill via a check, cash, or by listing their credit card details on the bill itself so the original supplier of the bill can follow the procedures to pay it. In this format, the letter can be returned to the sender with the payment details enclosed and this returned letter is often free of charge via the biller.

Fax – Faxes are used to convey relatively short messages that must be received relatively quickly, similar to email. A cover sheet must be attached to the front of the fax message, containing the area the message must be sent to (eg. Reception, Dr Kahn’s office). Faxes are being quickly replaced by emails due to the speed and efficiency sending emails provides over faxing.

Memo – Memos are used to convey very short messages, usually containing information or other one-way messages (messages that do not require a response). Memos, similar to faxes, are being quickly replaced with emails.

Text – Texting is usually used when the message must be conveyed urgently and can be used to receive a quick answer to an inquiry or contact clients and other businesses. Texting is always informal, and must only be used when the matter is urgent.

business businessman close up commerce
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

How Should Information be Written?

Although different formats will often differ in their writing style and tone, they will usually all contain the same basic structure. This includes:

  •  A greeting.
  • An introduction.
  • The main body of the message (main points/main paragrahs).
  • A conclusion.
  • A sign off

In letters – also some faxes and memos – a letterhead will be used. A letterhead will usually include the name of the person sending the email, the name of the business the sender works at, the sender’s position at the business (eg. manager, assistant supervisor) and the sender or business’ contact details (address, phone number, email etc.).
Emails contain a similar feature, only the details are usually featured below the main body of the email rather than above it.

Emails, Letters, Memos and Faxes may also include a signature after the sign-off. The document may be printed and physically signed, or may be uploaded using an image of the signature. The signer of the document is usually the sender, but could also be the manager or supervisor of the staff member who sent the document.

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Proofreading and Editing

Once a draft of the document has been written out, it will often require a round of editing or proofreading.

Editing is done when the first draft has been constructed and includes substantive (structural) changes. This may mean swapping paragraphs around, cutting out any unimportant or repetitive details or completely changing the format used to better suit the message being expressed.
A supervisor, manager or staff member more experienced with writing documents may be asked to help edit your document and provide valuable feedback as to how it can be improved.

Proofreading is done when the document is believed to be structurally sound, and includes changing, adding or omitting words or sentences and fixing incorrect grammar and spelling.
Another staff member may also be required to proofread the document, as other staff members will often be able to spot mistakes you have looked over.

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Publishing Your Document

When you are satisfied your document is clear of grammatical, spelling and structural errors, you will need to publish it. This sounds simple enough, but there are some things you will need to keep in mind during this process.

Check the address. Whether sending texts, emails, letters, memos or faxes, always check the address (email address, street address, fax number or phone number).

  • Addressing Emails – Emails are addressed using the email address of the intended receiver (eg. jodi.Carls@live.com.au), and include short subject line that summarises what the email is about (eg. Friday Staff BBQ). When emailing, you may find it handy to use the CC (carbon copy) or BCC (blind carbon copy) feature. This allows you to address multiple people, meaning you can send the document to multiple people who might need it. The BCC feature allows you to add multiple addresses without the primary receiver (the ‘to’ address) seeing the other email addresses.
  • Addressing Letters – When addressing letters, ensure the address is written correctly on the envelope. This ensures the correct person/business receives the document.

Eg.  Caroline Adams,
Adam’s Pharmacy,
23 Wilkes Street,
VIC AUS 3219

To include a unit or lot number, write it before the street address (eg. Unit 5, 23 Wilkes Street).
It is also important to make sure the correct amount of stamps is placed on the envelope. This will be a $1 stamp for local postage in Australia (soon rising to $1.10). If there is an insufficient amount of stamps, or the ‘to’ address in incorrect, the letter will be sent back to you (‘return to sender’).

  • Addressing Faxes – When sending a fax, you will need to include the name of the receiver, their landline phone number and their fax number. Faxes are usually sent using a fax machine or a general photocopier which includes a faxing feature. If faxing a business, make sure to include the area the fax is being sent to (eg. Administration).
  • Addressing Memos – Memos are usually sent in either an online (via email or another similar program) or printed and sent or handed out. Memos should contain the receiver’s name, the sender’s name, the date the message is being sent and a ‘subject’ line containing a short summary of what the memo is about.
  • Addressing Texts – Texts are addressed using the phone number of the receiver. You may add multiple recievers in the ‘to’ section, meaning that multiple people will receive the message. When writing texts on behalf of your business, ensure that you include the name of the receiver, a greeting, a main body of text and a sign off.
    eg.  Hello Karen,
    I have organised the BBQ for 12pm Friday.
    Thank you,
    Chase
    Texts are usually kept short and to-the-point, but must still be kept formal as you are still representing your business.

Keep a copy – When sending a message, make sure that you still have a copy of the message sent available to you. You will usually be able to easily access a duplicate of text messages, emails and faxes as these are kept either in their original form, or are available through your ‘sent’ messages folders.
Ensure you photocopy any memos or letters that have been written directly onto paper. This ensures that you are able to properly reference your sent material if it is ever questioned. It also ensures that a copy can be re-sent if a letter happens to get lost in the mail.

Date it – Whenever you send a message, ensure that you write the date on the very top. This means that if the integrity of the document ever comes into question – such as through a court case – the date the letter was written and sent will be readily available for proof of integrity. This can also be useful if you have to look back on previous messages to put together a time line (eg. to remember the last time you sent out a business report).

Summary

As an employee, you need to make sure all information you send is put into the correct format, edited to ensure it is free of grammar and spelling mistakes, and published using the correct method. If you are unsure as to how a specific piece of information is to be published, it is best to look over your workplace’s Policies and Procedures Manual, or to ask your supervisor, manager, or a staff member experienced in document writing.

 

References

Movie Reviews, Uncategorized

‘Keeping Faith’ Season One Review

When it comes to English crime shows, I’m pretty much always in. If there’s anything that ‘Broadchurch’ and ‘Luther’ taught us, it’s that the British sure as hell know how to make a damn good crime show. So, as soon as this show called ‘Keeping Faith’ popped up on ‘ABC iView’, I brought out the popcorn. But, just how faithful is ‘Keeping Faith’ (Get it? Faith… ‘Keeping Faith’… never mind…) to England’s brilliant crime show record?

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‘Keeping Faith’ is an English thriller staring Eva Myles as Faith, a lawyer and mother of three who’s life gets thrown upside down as her husband fails to return home from a seemingly normal day’s work at their shared law firm. It’s soon discovered there’s more to this disappearance than it seems, and Faith becomes determined to discover her husband’s whereabouts. However, with a rag-tag band of clients and a police officer hot on her back, finding her husband becomes harder than she’d ever thought.

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Overall, I was actually a little disappointed with ‘Keeping Faith’. The acting was excellent, especially from the gorgeous and equally as talented Eva Miles, and the plot did drag me in enough to watch an entire season, but in the end, it just didn’t feel like it paid off. The characters were relatively shallow, the dialogue was pretty average and the plot was all over the place to say the least. At times, it looks like its about to go somewhere and in the next scene, it’s forgotten all together. Overall (spoiler alert), we end up with more questions than we do answers.

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And before you say anything: yes, I am aware there’s a second season. It hasn’t turned up on Australian shores yet – we’ve actually just finished the first season over here – but I’m sure we’ll be getting it sooner or later. The problem is, I just don’t know how invested in a second season I really am. From what I got in the first season, this show is one of those types of shows that’s essentially designed to keep going season after season until it ends up getting canned. If it had’ve just ended with some kind of resolution to the whole mystery, maybe I’d be interested in a second season, but it seems like all shows these days are terrified of loosing their audience if the mystery isn’t still dangling in front of them. All it takes is a quick look to shows like ‘Broadchurch’ to see how viewership still rallies for finalised shows if they’re still done well, but ‘Keeping Faith’ seems far more interested in dragging it’s viewers along by the hairs in some slight hope of a conclusion than it does in making a great show.

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Overall, ‘Keeping Faith’ is by no means a bad show. It’s got excellent acting, good cinematography and a story interesting enough to keep you watching each episode, but in the end, I was left disappointed. Whether or not the second season picks up the plot, I’ll have to wait and see.

Find Season One of ‘Keeping Faith’ at:
https://iview.abc.net.au/show/keeping-faith

Crime and Missing Persons

William Tyrrell – The Case of the Boy in the Spiderman Suit

Unless you’ve been living under a rock – or outside of Australia – for the last few years, you’ve probably heard of the case of William Tyrrell. Maybe you’ve seen his photo in the news; that iconic image of the young boy dressed in a Spider-Man suit caught mid-roar, beaming with joy. But what exactly happened to this missing boy on that fateful September day in 2014? How could a three year old boy completely disappear from his grandparent’s home without a single trace? And how is he still missing?

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New Beginnings

On the 26th of June, 2011, William Tyrrell was born. Unfortunately for young William, his family life was far from simple. Both parents – who remain unnamed for legal reasons – suffered from substance abuse and were described as having a ‘troubled’ marriage. His older sister – who also remains unnamed – had already been taken away due to these family difficulties and had been living in different foster homes ever since. Not much has been said about this family’s ‘troubled’ behaviours, but whatever had been occurring appeared to have a profound effect on the life of William. Before long, authorities had begun speaking about placing William into care.
Terrified at the thought of loosing yet another child, William’s biological parents took William and ran. After six weeks of hiding, William was found safe with his parents at his grandfather’s home in Sydney.
In March of 2012, when William was not even a year old, both him and his older sister were placed into the care of the same foster parents. These two foster parents, alike many in this story, remain unnamed due to the complications of the fostering process. Both William and his sister took a relatively fast liking to their new parents, with William developing an especially close bond with his foster father.
The biological parents continued to spend time with William once a fortnight under the watch of authorities. According to all involves, the biological parents themselves included, William’s biological parents had never spoken to the foster parents, nor attempted to seek them out. William’s foster parents also never harboured any hard feelings towards William’s biological parents, insisting that he keep up routine visits to uphold the bond with his biological family.

6cbe837c16e82210e0d6241fb9c40361[1](Pictured) William Tyrrell’s foster parents

The Day Of

On Thursday the 11th of September, William’s foster parents made the last-minute decision to take a surprise drive up to the country town of ‘Kendall’ to visit William’s Grandmother, picking up both William and his sister from school on their way. The two were overjoyed, never having known about the family’s plans. The drive itself took around three hours from Sydney to Kendall, including one stop at a Caltex service station and another at a McDonalds. It was late, about 9pm, when the family arrived at the Grandmother’s home in Benaroon Drive, Kendall. William’s grandmother, having only been informed of the visit the moment the parents left, was reportedly ill and hadn’t been able to prepare for the family’s visit. The parents set up two separate rooms for each of the children, then set them off to bed.

17447d980ace23519a4b13951f5f372b[1](Pictured) William’s Grandmother’s Kendall home.

The next morning, William woke up early with his father. They both turned on the television and watched a children’s show, attempting not to wake the rest of the house. However, it didn’t take long before William’s sister, mother and grandmother were also awake. Excited about their new bicycles, the two siblings were adamant to go outside. William, dressed in his Spider-Man suit (the same costume pictured in William’s iconic missing person’s photos, dubbing him ‘The Boy in the Spider-Man Suit’) and his sister then rode around their grandmothers’ spacious backyard.
Between 9 and 9:30am, William’s foster father found himself having to make the drive to Laurieton to make a business call via Skype, escaping Kendall’s notoriously bad internet connections.
During this time, William had raced back outside with his foster mother and grandmother, bursting with energy. William and his sister had begun playing a game of dice, each sibling jumping the amount of times the dice commanded. Once that game was over, William had begun playing a game of tigers, racing around the yard ‘roaring’ with his mother. William, still full of energy, ran out into the grass to continue his games.

imagev1e8e7a4ced7f0fa99b8daf861b13aad74-j7w5k6fwjjxzfh3kmp2_ct1880x930[1]After a short amount of time, only a couple of minutes, had passed, William’s foster mother noticed she hadn’t heard William for a little while. She went out to look for him, panicked. She held hope that William’s foster father might’ve dropped by, picking him up to take him for a drive. Maybe William had run down to greet his father, something both him and his sister had a habit of doing. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case.
William’s foster father arrived home to hear his son was missing. Both himself and Williams foster mother began a search for him, visiting the houses of nearby neighbours, who also agreed to look for the young William. About 20 minutes later, William’s foster mother called the police, announcing William’s disappearance.

Tyrrell-search2[1](Pictured) Police search Bushland for evidence of William Tyrell.
Image taken from: https://www.nbnnews.com.au/2018/06/27/police-expand-bushland-search-for-william-tyrrell/

The Investigation

New South Wales police were quick to respond to William’s disappearance. Although they had originally suspected it was merely a case of a wondering boy, no sign of the youngster after hours of searching had lead them to believe there were far grimer forces at work, and an Amber Alert was released.
Due to the size of Kendall and the last-minute nature of the family’s decision to drive to Kendall, police began to look into William’s family – his biological family specifically.
William’s biological family had already run off with William once previously at the thought of their son being placed in temporary foster care and the biological family appeared to be again fearful of losing their son after recent talk of William’s foster family looking to permanently adopt William and his sister. However, police appeared to rule the biological family out as suspects. Not only were the two in Sydney at the time, but they had been kept away from William’s foster family and had no idea where William was being housed, let alone where William’s Grandmother lived.
William’s biological parents and Grandmother were also ruled out as suspects. They were extensively questioned and all alibies, including the foster father’s Skype call, had checked out. However, there was one line of inquiry that appeared to take the media by storm.
William’s Grandmother had mentioned a broken washing machine to William’s foster mother. William’s Grandmother had said she had made a call about the problem, but that there still hadn’t been any repairs made. The repairman finally arrived a few days before William’s disappearance.
Although it appeared to be a meaningless visit to police at first, it was later discovered that this repairman, Mr Bill Spedding, was previously accused of historical sex crimes (although these charges were later dropped). Police had searched the Spedding’s Laurieton home, but to no avail. Nothing of William’s was reportedly found. Although Spedding’s name would continue to plague media reports, falsely stating he was a convicted paedophile (an accusation proven to be false), Spedding has appeared to be dropped by police as a suspect in the case.

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(Pictured) ‘Strike Force’ Officer (left) alongside suspect Bill Spedding (right). Photo from: News Corp Australia.

So What Really Happened?

To this day, the fate of the gorgeous youngster in the Spider-Man suit still remains unknown. Most have come to the conclusion that William had been abducted, but the mystery of who still continues to baffle everyone involved. With family all ruled out as suspects, it appears that the only option could be that William was a victim of an opportunistic abductor. William’s foster parents have since described a serious of cars, two which were parked out the front of their street and one which had driven into the street by an unknown person. Being a small country-town, any cars driving past the house that didn’t belong to the family could’ve been suspicious, but they also could’ve just been confused visitors – all a big coincidental passing. There have been reports of a man asking for directions to a road that passed the Grandmother’s home at a local pub – perhaps explaining the car that had ‘suspiciously’ passed the house before William went missing, but as of yet, that driver has not been publicly identified.
On the 5th of August, the inquest into William Tyrrell’s disappearance will continue.
We only hope – we all hope – to find answers for the mourning biological and foster families, and to bring justice to the cheerful, giggly William Tyrrell.
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For more information, I highly recommend the podcast recently released by Chanel 10 titled ‘Where’s William Tyrrell’. It describes in-depth the family life, disappearance and investigation.
Link: https://play.acast.com/s/wheres-william-tyrrell

References:

http://www.whereswilliam.org/

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-28/william-tyrrells-parents-hid-him-from-authorities-court-hears/10949458

https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/missing-boy-william-tyrrells-doomed-life/news-story/38baa59f1db54e441f01cc11a6af6eba

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/missing-boy-william-tyrrells-doomed-life/news-story/38baa59f1db54e441f01cc11a6af6eba

https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/axed-top-cop-expected-to-be-grilled-at-the-william-tyrrell-inquest-over-his-intense-interest-in-washing-machine-repairman-bill-spedding/ar-AADyaqb

https://www.news.com.au/national/courts-law/paedophile-to-testify-at-william-tyrrell-inquest/news-story/551d485fd59bb6f513d630c6ec9ea7c3

If you have any information relating to the disappearance of William Tyrrell, please contact Crime Stoppers at: 1800 333 000
Reports can be made anonymously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Reviews

Closer Than You Think by Lee Maguire – A Review

As far as I’m aware, I don’t think I’ve ever read a published debut novel. I mean, being an editor and all, I’ve come across my fair share of first novels, but a published debut just isn’t something I come across very often. I usually stick by the well-known authors, the well-known type with a history of popular reads, so this was a little bit out of my comfort zone. However, the promise of an exciting crime drama with a psychological crime thriller undertone swayed me, and I’m glad it did.

Closer Than You Think is the first novel in a developing crime series featuring Doctor Bryce Davidson, a psychologist at a ‘Children’s Agency’. When a strange set of threatening messages arise, it’s up to Davidson to use his wits, intuition and psychological expertise to find the culprit. But with relationship drama getting heavier, work getting tougher and threats getting more and more terrifying by the day, can he catch them in the act before it’s too late?

So, what’s the verdict? Well, as far as debut novels go, Lee Maguire’s Closer Than You Think was surprisingly good. With drama on every page, a frightening stalker and a search for answers, I just couldn’t put the damn book down! For a first-time author, Maguire does a brilliant job at keeping descriptions short and drama central, making it a breeze to read – the perfect ‘air-port read’, so to speak.

That isn’t to say this book doesn’t have it’s flaws, of course. With quite a few noticeable spelling errors, clunky dialogue that seemed a little too formal for normal human conversation and a main character who’s just that little bit too perfect, there’s a lot for Maguire to improve on. The first few chapters were chocked full of strange exposition and description that really could’ve been cut out. But the more I read, the more I found the writing flowed. If it found it’s rhythm earlier on, it could’ve been an excellent read, but from an author with no public writing-style developed and a little experience in the published world of books, I have to give Maguire the benefit of the doubt here. It takes a lot to be a good writer and, as many people say, a first novel is never going to be a great novel. Luckily for Maguire, his ability to keep intrigue saved the day.

Sure, there are going to be people who tear apart this book, but for a debut author and a small publishing team, I have to say, it’s a good start. It did keep me on edge, which is everything in a crime-thriller, and (although it dragged on a bit at the start) its brief, punchy style of writing kept me glued to each page. With a few more improvements, some guidance and a tad more experience, Maguire really could have what it takes to pull off a successful crime series. 

Grab your copy of Closer Than You Think now!:
http://geni.us/closerthanyouthinkm

 

Follow Lee Maguire at:
https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Bryce-Davison-Thriller-Series-1497309670567574/

Find TCK Publishing at their site:
https://www.tckpublishing.com/

TCK Publishing’s Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/tckpublishing/

TCK Publishing’s Twitter:
https://twitter.com/TCKPublishing

 

Book Reviews

The Passage by Justin Cronin – A review

I’ve got to admit, I never really planned on picking this book up, but the moment I set eyes on it, I knew I had to read it. With its silver, almost holographic cover design, I couldn’t not pick it up. It wasn’t until I held the book in my hand and felt the weight of its epic 963 pages that I realised just how much of a committment I was getting myself into.

Justin Cronin’s The Passage is an epic sci-fi novel, centring around a devastating plague that begins to take over humanity, turning people into violent, vampire-zombie hybrids with a taste for – you guessed it – blood. Throw in an odd young child with an unknown ‘power’ and a ragtag group of youth with a taste for answers, justice and adventure, and you’ve got yourself a prime sci-fi read. But just how readable is Cronin’s novel?

Well, in all honesty, I have to say, I expected more from this book. The first few hundred pages were incredibly captivating. With a cast of intriguing personalities, each one with a well fleshed-out background, motive and voice. The plot was perfectly comprehendible – although a little wild, but nothing out of the ordinary for a sci-fi epic – and Cronin’s writing was the perfect cross between fast-paced, simple and descriptive.

However, as the book continued, I found myself getting more and more bored with the story. Sure, it had some interesting plot points and settings, but overall I found that the major let-down was the characters. As much as I read on, the less I began to care for each of the characters laid out before me. Although there was the occasional attempt to flesh-out characters, there just wasn’t enough characterisation to pull me in. No matter who the characters were or what was happening, every character seemed to have the same voice, speaking the same tone and using the same words (including a particularly frustrating over-use of the word ‘flyers’ as an expletive). In a novel that clearly outlines its central characters, having different language and personality traits was something that should’ve been vital, but there just didn’t appear to be any attempt at setting the characters appart in any means but their personal interests.

Plot, too, became jumbled the more I read on. Characters were introduced, developed, and then completely disregarded in later chapters. Action scenes were incredibly sudden in comparison to the resting phases of the novel, comprising of a series of long, relatively mundane descriptions, which could easily have been cut from the novel without affecting the story. Not to mention, there was a strange amount of cuts between letters, third-person narrations and military reports. In the end, I found it difficult to tell which character was which, what they were meant to be doing and what the purposes of each of the plot points were.

So, was it worth the read? Well, for me, the novel taught me a very valuable lesson: don’t judge a book by its cover. Sure, if you’re into science fiction and post-apocalyptic drama, I wouldn’t be one to stop you. The premise is interesting and it did drag me along long enough for me to finish the novel. However, if you’re after something with a little more depth and characterisation, I’d probably recommend Stephen King’s similar novel The Stand instead.

writing advice

The Epidemic of Showing AND Telling, and How You Can Avoid it

As a newbie editor, I’ve come across my fair share of errors and faults in writing. Usually, when I pick up a piece of writing, I’m on the look out for grammatical errors: spelling mistakes or words used in the wrong context. Sometimes I’ll pull up on a sentence that could be structured differently to make it easier to read, or a paragraph that doesn’t make much sense within the story. But there’s something I’ve been coming across recently that’s been bugging me a lot, something that I just can’t help but notice in most of the first-drafts I read, a little something called the ‘Epidemic of Showing AND Telling’.

What Does ‘Show DON’T Tell’ Mean?

Well, to put it straight, it means that instead of simply telling the audience something that’s occurring in your story, you describe it. That might be describing the actual events, or it could mean describing the effects of the events. Lets start with this basic example:

‘Sarah was afraid.’ 

     Sure, this sentence does the job. Anybody who reads it is going to know immediately how Sarah feels, but it’s vague. Simply telling readers how a character feels probably isn’t going to resonate with them. It’s a ‘blank statement’; something people read and attach virtually no feeling to, akin to reading a fact. So how can you make it resonate? Show!

‘Sarah’s legs began to tremor. A tingling sensation crawled up her spine.’

     Again, it’s short, but rather than telling readers exactly how the character ‘Sarah’ feels, readers are asked to work it out for themselves. It adds an element of trust between the reader and the author; the author trusting in the reader to put two and two together rather than spoon-feeding them everything, and the reader trusting the author to put together a description comprehensively enough for them to be able to put two and two together. Although both examples mean the same thing, one tells the reader what the character feels, and the other allows the reader to connect to the character through a description of feelings that they too have probably experienced before and can therefore relate to. And, as every author knows, relatability is everything.

What is ‘Showing AND Telling’?

To be fair, there is a lot more ‘showing’ these days than there used to be. Ever since the ‘show don’t tell’ phrase got attention, people have been taking notice and adapting their writing to fit the rule. However, although people have started to take the ‘showing’ aspect into account, there’s been quite a few that haven’t wrapped their head around the ‘don’t tell’ part of the phrase. Instead of just showing, they’re both showing AND telling. Here’s our example again, this time showing AND telling:

‘Sarah was afraid. Her legs began to tremor and a tingling sensation crawled up her spine.’

      It doesn’t take a genius to see the author’s lack of trust on this piece. They’re showing the reader that the character of Sarah is afraid, but they add the ‘telling’ in fear the reader won’t get the picture. As pretty much any reader will notice, it’s not necessary. Everyone knows what it feels like to be afraid. Readers know that wobbly knees and a tingle along the spine mean fear and, with the context of the story’s events added in, it doubles the reader’s awareness. They know what your describing, so there’s no need to tell them.

Curing the Epidemic

So, how exactly does an author cure the ‘Showing AND Telling’ epidemic? Well, it’s pretty easy: if you find yourself using both, get rid of one. Sure, telling is still an important part of writing. There will be times when telling is necessary for your story, but for the most part, showing should always take priority, especially when it comes to vital emotionally-driven scenes (which should be a pretty big majority of your writing if your novel is fiction). If telling is necessary, such as in a fast-paced fight scene, make sure you aren’t including any long, droning descriptions or ‘showing’ that might slow down the scene’s pace.

The best way to deal with the issue is to look at each event, page or paragraph, and look at how certain elements are described. If there’s a ‘show’ and a ‘tell’ describing the same element of the story and the ‘show’ suits the story’s pace, get rid of the ‘tell’. Not only will it make your story ten times less demanding to read, but it’ll cut down your word-count, too.

Last but not least, if you’re still not sure, consult a beta reader, editor, or (come on, you saw this coming), myself. Using the ‘contact me’ page, any author who’s still confused can send a message through requesting a free five-page trial edit on their writing, meaning I can pick up on all those ‘showing and telling’ moments and give some advice on how to fix it up.