My Favorite Scary Movies

My Favorite Scary Movies

Just in time for Halloween!
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Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. You can dress silly and no one will judge you for it. You don't have to cook for anyone. The Spirit of Halloween store is one of my happy places. And, of course, the scary movies!


“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)

In case you are unfamiliar with the Tim Burton Halloween classic, it follows Jack Skellington of Halloweentown, who tries to bring Christmastime to the land of ghouls and monsters — even going as far as to kidnap the real Santa Claus to do it! "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is a movie I watch throughout the year, not just Halloween, whenever I need a pick-me-up. Despite the occasionally gruesome moments, this movie is ultimately very lighthearted.


“Crimson Peak” (2015)

Like "The Nightmare Before Christmas," "Crimson Peak" is one of my all-time favorite movies. Edith is a beautiful young heiress from Buffalo, New York, who is on her way to becoming America’s Jane Austen, when handsome Sir Thomas Sharpe sweeps her off her feet. He takes her to his family’s dilapidated estate in England, where Thomas’s slightly unstable older sister, Lucille, also lives. Only soon Edith realizes that—you guessed it—the mansion is haunted by bloody ghosts.


“Corpse Bride” (2005)

Another Tim Burton classic, "Corpse Bride" follows Victor, a shy, awkward young man from a nouveau riche family, whose parents have arranged for him to marry sweet, quiet Victoria, the daughter of impoverished aristocrats. After a disastrous wedding rehearsal, he practices his vows in the woods, unwittingly marrying himself to a zombie bride. Like "The Nightmare Before Christmas," "Corpse Bride" has its gory scenes, but the music and the story ultimately pull at the heartstrings.


“Dark Shadows” (2012)

An underappreciated Johnny Depp/Tim Burton film, "Dark Shadows" is based off the premise of a Gothic soap opera from the 1970s. The movie starts when Barnabas Collins, a vampire that has been trapped inside of a coffin for centuries by his scorned witch lover Angelique, wakes up in 1976 and finds his extended family. Only Angelique is not going to let him go so easily.

As far as plots go, "Dark Shadows" doesn’t have a whole lot of substance. It’s even not that scary. But I love it for its comedic elements.


“The Babadook” (2014)

An Australian film more on the psychological side of horror, The Babadook was first recommended to me on Netflix. Amelia is a depressed widow with a young son named Sam, who has a wild imagination that causes him to believe monsters are everywhere and he even makes weapons to fight against them. After Sam convinces her to read him a pop-up book titled "Mister Babadook," Amelia’s psyche slowly starts to unravel as what she thought was a child’s nightmare starts to become a reality. "The Babadook" has virtually no gore or jump scares, but it will get under your skin like nothing else.


“Sleepy Hollow” (1999)

Another underappreciated Johnny Depp movie, this one inspired by the short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving. New York City Constable Ichabod Crane is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of decapitations. The townsfolk are convinced it is the work of the Headless Horseman, a mercenary killed during the American Revolution. At first, Ichabod thinks it is simply a madman praying on the people’s fears, but when he sees something not of this world, the murder investigation just got a whole lot more complicated.


“The Disappointments Room” (2016)

Despite the sad low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, "The Disappointments Room" is similar to "The Babadook": a psychological horror of a mother’s unraveling mental state that makes her vulnerable to a frightening paranormal force. After the death of her infant daughter, architect Dana moves into an abandoned mansion she plans to renovate with her husband and son for a fresh start. Everything is fine until Dana discovers a locked room not on the house’s blueprints and starts to have horrifying visions of a terrified young girl being tormented by a man with a vicious black dog.


“The Woman in Black” (2012)

Daniel Radcliffe makes it clear he is no longer The Boy Who Lived in "The Woman in Black," in which he plays Arthur, a young lawyer in the 20th century sent to a small village to handle a wealthy deceased woman’s affairs. While residing in his late client’s house, he encounters the spirit of a woman dressed in black and several of the town’s children die under mysterious circumstances. While "The Woman in Black" might rely more on jump scares like most modern horror films, anything involving children freaks me out.


“The Orphanage” (2007)

Going along the lines of "The Woman in Black" how anything involving kids freaks me out, "The Orphanage" is a Spanish horror film following Laura, once an orphan herself, who returns to the place she grew up intending to rebuild it as a home for disabled children. When her son Simon claims to have befriended a boy named Tomas with a sack over his head and then goes missing, a horrifying tragedy from the past makes its way into the present. I have only watched "The Orphanage" once, but it will go down in history as one of the scariest movies I have ever seen.


What are your favorite Halloween movies?

Cover Image Credit: Public Domain Pictures

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The Key To Ending Your First Draft Blues

Or at least getting through the next chapter with your hair intact
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Ah, the first draft. We’ve all been there as writers. The day we decide to turn a blank word document into a 70,000 word (or more) masterpiece. Or, at least, that’s always the aim. Often as first-time writers, we go into the experience blind, learning as we go, and never really knowing whether what we’re doing is right or wrong.

It can be frustrating at times, as most first drafts are a test of sanity. As somebody who had written ten first draft books (nearing eleven) in six years, I have had my fair share of ups and downs when it comes to first drafts.

My first book ever took me four years just to write it, I started at the age of sixteen and finished by the time I was twenty. A year later I had written another. I then wrote one in thirty days, and nowadays I write about three to four books a year.

My point is, there is no science to writing. It is all about learning how to do it, and finding the methods that suit you best. I just wish I could have had someone to tell me all of that when I started.

With that in mind, here are my five pieces of advice on how to write your first draft:

#5 Embrace the Terribleness

The first draft is always the worst version of any story. The sooner you accept it, the easier it is to move forward with your work. So you misspell a few words so bad that even Word can't help you. That shouldn't stop you from going with the flow. Your dialogue will feel hammier than a "Star Wars" film, but you'll clean it up the second time around. You're not expected to create a masterpiece on the first go, so just enjoy the ride.

#4 Suffer for your Art

Writing can be hard. I've said it enough times already, but it's true. You have to be prepared to suffer for it. The reason my first book took four years to write was because I didn't commit to it. The reason I wrote 80,000 words in thirty days was because I committed myself to write at least 1,000 words a day. Now I average 3,000 daily. Is it painful to force 3,000 words to the page every day? Yes, but that's what you have to do to get the draft finished.

#3 Take your Time

Now I know this goes against what I just said, but it's important that you go at the pace you want to. I was happier writing 1,000 words a day, but I was eighteen then. At twenty-three, I'll never get everything done going at 1,000 words a day. Commit yourself to writing every day, even if its only 200 words. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. You'll get to the finishing line quicker if you jog a steady pace rather than adopting a sprint and rest mentality.

#2 Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Yes, it's important to remember what colour your character's hair is, which one is taller, and what weapon they are carrying. Although with that said, it is important to keep going forward. In my editing, I go over everything with a fine comb, often with a character profile at my side. Don't get bogged down giving every little detail the first time around, you'll have time for that later. The hardest thing is getting it down the first time.

#1 Keep the Story Going at All Costs

This kind of goes without saying, but it is by far the most important step for me. You have to keep moving forward. It doesn't matter if you have to use the biggest Deus ex machina to get your plot going again, you can always edit it away in the re-draft. I use a technique called automatic writing, which means that I don't plan every detail of a chapter. I simply write it as I go. This allows me to give my characters natural reactions as events often come as a surprise to me too.

Obviously it is good to have a rough idea of what is meant to happen, but as long as you can get your characters from A to B, then you are half way there. The other half will be polishing it to the point you can see your reflection.

Good luck, and happy writing.

Cover Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Writer%27s_Block_I.jpg

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4 Steps To Writing a Haiku

It's Fun I Promise
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You've probably had to write a haiku for English sometime in your school career. You most likely found it boring, or difficult, or just plain stupid. I am going to try and show you a more fun way to write a haiku.

1. The Basics: What You Should Know

In case you don't know, a haiku is a Japanese poem that is only three lines long. It is usually taught that the syllables in each line should go 5-7-5. But really, as long as there are 17 syllables or less in the three lines, it's a haiku.

2. Write to Get a Reaction

When you write a haiku, you are aiming to get one of three reactions: Aaaahhh, aha!, or ha ha! For example...

Aaahhh: Laying in bed/dog next to me under blanket/my furry heater

Aha!: Life is too short to love people/who do not deserve/your whole heart

Ha ha!: I'm on the toilet/and my stomach drops/the roll is empty

3. Create an Image

In your writing, you want to create a new image in your readers mind with each line. Take my first haiku for example. I first talk about laying in bed. Then, I say there is a dog next to me under the blanket, so you picture a lump under the covers. In my last line, I call him a furry heater so you imagine a heater covered in fur. The image you create is more important than the syllables.

4. Performing

Lastly, you need to think about performing your haiku. As always, when you're speaking in front of a room of people, you need to project so the whole room can hear you and you need to make eye contact. Another thing to remember is the tone of your voice while you are saying your poem. Dramatic pauses can keep people on the edge of their seat, waiting for what you're going to say next. You also have to remember to be confident! And if you're not confident, fake it till you make it!

Cover Image Credit: Imgur

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