Top 10 Horror Movies

Hello everyone and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

While I usually do some writing advice that often surrounds the Holidays, I couldn’t really find anything in the usual writer request mailbox. So instead, I thought I’d offer my top 10 favorite horror movies of all time list. Keep in mind, I’m not saying that these are the scariest movies, but they are horror films that I thoroughly enjoy. So be prepared to disagree with me on whether these are actually scary… even if you are completely wrong.

10. Let Me In

I honestly debated even putting this one on the list. Because despite being on my top-5 favorite movies of all times list, this… really isn’t that scary. I saw that because it’s really a love story first and a horror movie second. It has it’s fair share of jump scares, but that’s really not where the meat of the movie is. Oh and before anyone goes nuts, yes I am aware that it is a remake, and yes I’m fully aware that most people consider the original the superior film, but I consider them completely separate as the original source material is barely recognizable here. So it has it’s moments, but if you’re looking for a deeper scare, this isn’t the movie for you.

9. Paranormal Activity

This movie… okay most of it I find to be kind of slow and not all that scary. However by the time you get to the end, you realize that it was all building up to one single solitary scene:

Oh God… this scene had chills flowing down my back after the screaming stopped. All you hear is slow footsteps on the stares and all you can do is wonder what’s coming up to reveal itself. In this case, it’s not what you see… its what you don’t see that is the most freaky. In the end, this movie turned out to be incredibly well done.

8. The Unborn

Yes… there’s nothing scarier than trying to sit through a horror movie on Netflix that no one has head about, hoping that its good. However this one is actually very well done and extremely enjoyable. The Holocaust backstory and Jewish mysticism actually helped make this one good. I’m also a huge fan of Gary Oldman.

7. Evil Dead (2013)

I’ll be honest, I don’t really consider the original one a horror movie. It was WAY too campy for that. This one however delivers the gore, blood, and demonology. There really isn’t anything else to really say about it. It is the original… on steroids.

6. Pulse (US Version) 

Want to kick your electronics addiction? This movie will do it. It’s got unseen scares, jump scares, a dark story, and all kinds of effects that just add to the darkness of the plot. This movie had me going from beginning to end and really keeps you on the edge of your seat. It basically tells the story of how the dead have found a way back into our world… through the internet and wireless communication. How the right code was cracked that allowed communication between the two worlds and now humanity is forced to either live behind closed doors in red-taped rooms, or head to dead zones where the dead can’t go.

5. Drag Me to Hell. 

Not going to lie, I found this movie quite silly at first. However as it went on, the movie became darker and darker… only to become silly again when the monster possessed a goat. However yet again… this movie was saved by a very dark twist of an ending…

 

4. The Last Exorcism

This is pretty much the opposite of the other movies, while the suspense, build up, and scary scenes were great, I want to know what happened to the born-again exorcist who marched out towards the bonfire right at the end. The sequel doesn’t do anything to help answer any of these questions.

3. The Exorcist 3

In my opinion, the only true sequel to the original Exorcist is this movie right here. It follows the story of the detective from the first movie and even has a major reveal about Father Karras from the first film. It can be silly at times, however it also has a really good twist and an amazing performance from Brad Douriff.

2. The Exorcist

Yeah it’s not really a horror movie list without this one at the top. This is still considered by most to be the scariest movie out there. It is said that people went running from the theaters back when this was first released. Not helping matters was when the church confirmed that yes, things like this can happen.

Whether or not you find it scary, it’s still a dark story that can give even the most desensitized minds pause.

1. The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Yeah I think everyone is seeing a pattern by this point. I love exorcism movies. I admit that this one had me freaked out when I saw it and you might be surprised by what scenes. The exorcism didn’t really bother me, nor did the scenes where Emily is shown being possessed. What freaked me out were the two scenes with Dr. Cartright. I can’t find clips for these scenes, but essentially he appears at a low point in the trial offering his help. The entire time the camera is on him, he is glancing off into the sky or behind the lawyer that he’s talking to. It’s never revealed what’s scaring him, but the most chilly lines in the movie were uttered at this point.

Dr. Cartright: That girl was not schizophrenic, she was not narcoleptic, or any combination of the two… I’ve seen people with those afflictions, they can be horrible of course… but they don’t scare me…

Erin: But what you saw there… did?

Dr. Cartright: God… if I’d known, I never would have been there!

Just the way he says it and the fact that this meeting is before the reveal of the exorcism, makes this movie for me.

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

The Writer’s Favorite Book…

Hi Jim,
I was wondering. You’ve posted a lot about writing and how to make a good story. You’ve also mentioned that you have a tough time reading other people’s stories, hence why you wrote your own. I was just wondering, what is your favorite story?
Best,
Cheri

Hi Cheri,

Thanks for following my work! I’ll admit that my library read books has increased exponentially since the advent of audible. I’m admittedly a much faster writer than I am a reader… if that even makes sense.

To answer your question though, my absolute favorite story is a fairly old novella that I’d read in High School for summer reading credit.

b4776457dde57f07a6-0.jpg

Strange Highways by Dean Koontz.

I’ll admit that the man’s writing has gone… in rather odd directions recently and the religious undertones are far more glaring, but this was back during some of his best writing. This book, which thanks to a Christmas present from my wife I now own a signed limited first edition of, is actually a collection of short stories. The first story in the book is the novella for which the collection is titled: Strange Highways.

I’m rarely on the edge of my seat when it comes to a book, so it should come as a rather big surprise when I say that this book had me on the edge more than any movie I’ve ever seen.

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

The novella is about an alcoholic loser of a writer named Joey Shannon. He returns to his hometown, which is a former coal town that has become a ghost town as it is slowly emptied of people by the federal government when thousands of acres of burning coal beneath it threatened to collapse and turn everyone to cinders.

Joey inexplicably finds himself at a crossroad from many years earlier. He can be redeemed from his alcoholism if he takes the tougher road and manages to save Celeste Baker from murder by his psychopathic brother, P.J.
Joey is thrust back in time again and again in replays of the same scene when he fails to stop his brother before the power to believe gives him the needed strength.

The book has gotten mixed reviews, but manages to maintain a 3.8 rating on Goodreads. There is quite a lot that you have to take for granted in the book and I’ll be the first to admit, that it’s far from perfect, but I’ve read it five times and am on my sixth read as we speak. I love this book, especially the ending and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes thrillers dealing with the dark side of religion, but has a greatly satisfying ending.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

The Non-Written Not-Rule on Paragraph Length

I wanted to ask you about chapters. I’m heavily into the re-write of mine. I’ve been putting a lot more detail which means some of my chapters have become a lot bigger. In your view what’s the maximum word count for a chapter? Is it okay to have a 3k or even 5k one if it works?

Hi Eric,

There really is no right or wrong answer here. My chapters often range from 1100 to 6700 words. As long as you’re in the same place, in the same character’s perspective, there is no reason to end a chapter. Chapter breaks for me are most appropriate for the passage of time (say a few minutes/hours), during a major perspective change (a character POV who isn’t in the same vicinity), or a change of scenery. Even just walking into another room can justify a chapter change.
Well say I’m writing a story that is completely linear, stays with one character’s perspective, and remains in the same room the entire time? 
Sigh… okay, in this increasingly hypothetical situation, I’d say that a chapter break would need to happen when the character’s attention is drawn to something new or… something changes in the room.
As I said above, there is no exact science. How or when you decide to end a chapter will be dictated more by your own style of writing and inclination than it will any written rule or any advice I could give you. I try to look at a chapter as its own individual thought, problem, or scene.
There are many out there  who would say that the length of a chapter should be more decided by the length of a book. (a 55,000 word book should have 5,000 word chapters), in other words, split up the book into 10 chapters, each one containing a tenth of the total word count. I don’t subscribe to this as I find it far too rigid.
In the end, it’s really up to you. If you feel like a chapter is starting to drone on, then find a place where the attention is broken or the scene changes in someway and insert a chapter break. It’s more of a judgement call than anything else.
So, sorry that I can’t give you a definitive answer, but honestly that’s because there isn’t really one. I do hope that this helps in some way.
Readers, what do you think? Are there certain chapter structures that you live by when writing? Let Eric know in the comments .

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

From My Writing Playlist

My friend refers to this as ‘cheese metal’ and I can really see why. Though he also said that music like this always brings a smile to his face and makes him feel good. Again, he’s right, and that’s why I listen to it.

When to Listen: I’d say that this would be the song to play when you’re writing the aftermath to the final fight. Everything is clear and you’re seeing the world as it is now that whatever blight was upon it is now gone.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Follow-ups, Their Direction, and Why We’ll Never Get Away From Them.

 

Let’s face it, we’re all fed up with sequels and prequels, right? Once a story is over, there’s nothing wrong with declaring a happily ever after and leaving it at that. Once a story is concluded, the heroes have been through enough, and it’s time to move on to bigger and better things so they can live out their days in peace.

So why then do the stories keep getting rehashed? Why do we continuously invade their lives with forced plots that thrust characters back into hard situations that make the entire world less believable and even in some cases, damage the first story? Why did the orphanage from the first Blues Brothers wind up closing? Why did the Gates family get thrust into another historical mystery? Why is Disney following up on literal happily ever afters?

Well… there’s a couple of reasons for this… First, sequels are safe. Even if they’re many years out of date. Both literary and visual media companies want followup stories because if an audience liked the first story, they’ll pay to see/read the next one in a line… no matter how poorly done it is. Some because they love the characters and want to revisit their world, others just to see how badly it all get’s messed up.

Unfortunately, they’re right in this line of thinking. New titles and original movies that aren’t based on anything are often hard sells by comparison. If you write a story that is completely your own, not based on any modern/historical events, based in an established world, etc. You’re going to have a hard time. The same can be said about movies. I spoke in another post about the criticism that Hollywood is out of ideas. I don’t agree. Hollywood produces original movies all the time. The problem is that they’re usually given a smaller budget, little to no advertising, and go relatively un-celebrated. So next time you go to the movies. Take a look at the sign and check out one of the movies you don’t recognize and haven’t heard of. Usually, those will be your original stories.

So at some point through presequelitis, we’ve all got to come to terms with the fact that followup stories/movies are never going away. We can complain and moan all we want, there will always be an audience for them. Like it or not, there will always be an audience for movies such as Ghostbusters Answer the Call. These are not going to go away and I don’t think they should…

HEAR ME OUT!

There are right and wrong ways to do sequels and prequels. First, prequels need someone to keep an eye on continuity. If your prequel is going to poke major potholes in the better followup, then it may be time to abandon said story. The worst thing you can do is damage established norms, because that’s how you lose your audience.

Sequels are a little different. If you’ve written a story and given the idea that all loose ends are tied up and everything is finished, going back and forcing those characters into a whole new story that came out of nowhere causes a lot of problems. Not the least of these are 1. you’re beating on characters that have already taken their bumps. This can come off at mean spirited. 2. You’re straining suspension of disbelief. Suddenly bringing in a new adversary/obstacle that is somehow connected to the original story, but literally no one knew about, and/or mentioned up until now can be tough to follow.

So how can we make sequels work? Well for starters, if you intend to write a sequel to your story, don’t tie up all the loose ends. Leave something for the sequel to grab onto. In other words, spread your story out over a couple of novels. There’s no rule that says everything has to be crammed into one story.

Now let’s say that you’ve finished your story. Let’s say every loose end is completely tied up and your story has been published. People love it and are either screaming for a sequel or you’ve come up with a new plot point that you’d like to explore in that setting. This is where you have to be VERY careful. This is where you run the risk of writing a forced sequel, because its here that suddenly you have to explain where this new plot point comes from and why no one noticed it up until now. It’s a very sloppy way of doing things, and honestly is very transparent.

That said, the best way to go about doing something like this is to turn your story into a series of stories all set in the same world, but with different main characters. In essence, turn it into an anthology series. You can create a whole new set of characters and maybe even grab one or two supporting/minor characters from your previous story to take center stage. You can still have the characters from the first book come in and make appearances, reacting to the situation as you see fit. However they would really need to stay in the background.

The best thing about doing it this way is that you can literally do anything you want as long as you obey the rules you’ve already put in place for the world you created. The story prior to, during, or after the original. When I wrote damnation, it takes place during and after the events of Divinity and does so in a way that does not affect the original story other than bringing more dynamics to the original plot points. In essence, the happenings of Damnation actually expand and emphasize what goes on in Divinity.

Followup stories aren’t going away, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be good!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

The Future of Magnifica

Hi Jim,

I just had a quick question. I finished reading the Magnifica series and was wondering if you planned on going any further with it? I know the series is a couple of years old at this point, but I liked it and was wondering if we’d see these characters again.
Thanks,
John

 

Hi John,

I’d love to revisit Magnifica at some point and not for not trying. Believe it or not, I’ve actually got an indirect sequel, a prequel, and a side-story partially written. The problem is that all three went nowhere fast and really strained my suspension of disbelief as each story became too incredible. Magnifica was supposed to blend reality with a fantasy world in a way that was at least somewhat feasible. I wanted people to recognize areas and the world they live in, while being able to enjoy fantasy creatures.

So far, the closest I’ve been able to come is the Magnifica prequel dealing with the previous generation. It does fill in a lot of the blanks, but I’ve had rather consistent problems both with continuity and believability. So I wouldn’t be surprised if another book in the Magnifica series does make its way to the shelves, but it may be a while.

Thanks for the letter and glad you enjoyed Magnifica!

Best,

Jim

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

 

Writing Other Cultures. Can you do it effectively?

Hi Jim,

I’ve been reading a lot of your advice posts, as well as some of your literature. First I want to say thank you for being so willing to address questions and hand out writing advice. I’ve found it very helpful. However one of your posts, I have to admit irked me a little. In it, you mentioned that people should be able to write characters of other ethnicities and creeds. Frankly, I don’t see how that is possible if you’re not from that culture or haven’t experienced it firsthand. By attempting to do so, you run the risk of appropriation and possibly making an unintentionally offensive character. I was hoping you could clarify your point about that a little further, as I don’t think simple research is sufficient to be able to accurately represent someone else.
Thanks,
Melinda

 

Hi Melinda,

A few things here… first of all, I don’t subscribe to the idea of cultural appropriation and I never have. To me, this is the antithesis of everything the United States, if not most western nations, stands for. Our country functions under the principle that we are a melting pot and that cultures are embraced and aspects are assimilated into our own. In other words, if you like something from another culture, you can adapt it into your own. I have several antiques and curiosities around my house from Norse, Asian, and South American origin, though I do not share their heritage. In the same spirit, I, as a man of Irish heritage, have seen Asians and Latinos in my own neighborhood singing Irish drinking songs, dressing like stereotypical Irishmen, and dancing (surprisingly well) Irish jigs on St. Patty’s day. Not only am I not offended, I both enjoy and appreciate it. I think this is the attitude we should have towards such things. The idea of appropriation and how it’s been applied is an institutional barrier against the freedoms that the west enjoys, and creating such institutional barriers isn’t a positive.

That being said, it is important to get it right. In my post, not only did I say research, but also attempt to experience the culture where possible, or at the very least, speak to some people who are a good representation of it. At no point did I say that simple research, such as opening a book, would be adequate.

I don’t agree with the idea that if you’re not part of or have experienced a culture, you can’t write about it. If that were the case, all I’d be writing about are white men. There would be no women or any ethnic minorities in my writing. So let’s consider that for a moment. Let’s say I were to subscribe to the idea that… let’s say only a person of color can adequately represent a person of color. Okay, so I write stories strictly about white men… then someone comes along and accuses me of not being inclusive and diverse in my writing. What would be my defense?

In essence, you can’t really have it both ways. Either someone can, if they put the effort in, adequately represent someone of another walk of life, or writing is going to quickly become segregated. There is an inherent danger in that thought process. One, because its completely unrealistic, and two because then it opens up doors to many other problems.

So I will restated what I said before. If you want to write characters of a different culture, race, creed, just be careful. Make sure you have enough knowledge of that group of people to proceed. Don’t assume, and don’t stereotype. Just write them as people, equal with anyone else. The cultural differences shouldn’t be the determining factor of the character, if anything, it should be an influence at most. Anything more than that and you run the risk of just creating a character archetype for a certain group of people which can come off as offensive.

Anyway, thanks for the email and the thought-provoking question!

Readers, what do you think? Can someone of one race/gender/culture effectively write another or should that remain their domain?



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim