Thursday, August 31, 2017

RWBY Speculation: Where is RWBY's Story Going?

Hey, everyone.

So, last week when I wrote my first RWBY Speculation blog about why so many fans have become disenchanted with RWBY, there was quite a response. Many people offered their own takes on it, but the ones I found most interesting were the criticisms on the story. Some thought Volume 4 tip-toed around the major points of plot and others felt that Vol. 4 was just meandering. Basically, that the story blew its load in Volume 3.

Well, the sharper ones amongst you will remember that I mentioned Vol. 4's story was messy and that the action of RWBY did crescendo in Vol. 3 with Vol. 4 still feeling like resolution. And, since I was going to write a speculation/theory post on where the story of RWBY was going anyway, I decided that now would be a good time. So, let's get on with it.

So, then, where is RWBY going?

That's sort of a hard question to answer seeing as how according to Kerry and Miles, we only just got out of the introduction. In books, movies, and TV shows, often times the introduction is the shortest part of the story. However, there are usually some tantalizing clues about a story's conclusion in the introduction--some stories tend to write themselves. Ergo, there must be something we can conclude.

So, back in Vol. 3 when the concept of the Maidens was introduced, I'm sure I wasn't the only one who saw the obvious connection between the Maidens and Team RWBY. There are four girls per each, and to some extent, we can already predict who is supposed to be what Maiden: Yang is summer, Weiss is winter, Ruby is spring, and Blake is fall. Or it could be that Ruby is fall and Blake is spring because in the team name, they are ordered R, W, B, then Y, ergo fall, winter, spring, and summer.

But anyway, that's where I thought the show was going in Vol. 3. In fact, when Ozpin started describing the girl he'd chosen to be the Fall Maiden, I thought he was talking about a member of RWBY. You can imagine my surprise and confusion when it turned out to be Pyrrha. Especially because she's more of a summer than a fall. But, I keep saying that "I thought" this; so what am I thinking now?

Well, when Vol. 3 ended and the story expanded in Vol. 4, we found out about the four relics. Why do they matter? Well, because I'm not entirely sure about their place in the story. Why do they exist? That is to say, why do they exist in a story that seems to have been fine with just the idea of a wizard and four maidens? Why bring in this relic biz? It's still too difficult to say, but did you notice how there are four relics? There are also four members per team, four huntsmen academies, four kingdoms, four seasons, fours maidens, four brides for four brothers. Things in RWBY happen in fours. Hence, it's still possible for RWBY to become the Maidens, but that sounds far too simple to me. No, I think there's going to be a few epic twists here and there, and I think the relics have something to do with it.

In fact, when I was looking for images for this blog, I found this:

Apparently someone called Snow Daze from RWBY Amino had the same feeling, and they took the trouble to match each relic with an academy, kingdom, and maiden. At first, I wanted to fight them on the fact they were claiming the Fall Maiden was related to Beacon and Vale, and the Spring Maiden to Haven and Mistral, but it does make sense. Remember, Qrow took Amber to Beacon to protect her, and Qrow mentioned to Raven that he didn't know where the Spring Maiden was. It wouldn't have made sense for Qrow to transport Amber across the planet to Beacon or to ask about Spring if she was half a world away. So...

But what does this mean for the story of RWBY? Well, if the Destruction relic is indeed beneath Beacon, then I wonder if that had something to do with Beacon's fall, kind of like Qrow's Semblance. And, this image seems to suggest that Blake is fall and Ruby is spring as creation and destruction seem to fit their personalities. But, other than that, this image doesn't give me any insight into where the story is going.

But on to my original point about the number four... with the number four appearing everywhere, we are forced to take a look at it; does it offer us any clues? Well, a quick search through numerology reveals that four is seen as stable, like a square. It has four sides, four corners, and no weak spots. Four represents safety and security. And while that's all well and good, I don't think RWBY is about pointing out how strong the number four is because there were already four Maidens and four huntsman academies before everything in the story began to go down hill. This most likely means that Monty, Kerry, and Miles didn't mean for the number four to be taken as any sort of symbol.

I always the number four was a weak number.
And girly to boot. I don't know why.

It is much more likely that four is another aspect of RWBY's fairy tale theme. Numbers tend to pop up in fairy tales, like "The Three Little Pigs and the Big, Bad Wolf" or "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves." In fact, I found an honors paper done by Grand Valley State student Alonna Liabenow called "The Significance of the Numbers Three, Four, and Seven in Fairy Tales, Folk Lore, and Mythology." According to Liabenow, four is usually linked to nature, especially the seasons and  cardinal directions. Unfortunately, that's not of much help because we already know the season angle, and the cardinal directions don't give us anything. However, there was something of interest in Liabenow's paper.

She mentions how the Mayans were very into the number four, especially when it comes to the four cardinal directions. In fact, the Mayans even associated colors with the cardinal directions. Any guesses as to what colors they were?

Tick-tock, tick-tock...

If you guessed red, white, black, and yellow, you are correct. Red was East, Black was West, Yellow was South, and White was North. And so, thinking about how the girls in RWBY are similar to the seasons, I thought of the Ancient Greeks because they applied different meanings to the winds depending on which direction they came from. North winds were often associated with cold weather, and South winds represented hot weather. East winds were then associated with poetry and literature, and West winds with mild weather, which at first seems backwards when taking Ruby and Blake into account, but remember, Ruby wanted to be a hero like in the books and Blake, when not sulking, is the most mild-mannered member of the team.

Ruby: "I love books!"
Blake: *chillin' out*

So, what does this all mean?

Enh, not much as far as I can tell. From one angle, it looks like Monty may have been influenced by Mayan culture, and maybe even Ancient Greek culture, but those are two pretty big stretches. Likely he just had a cool dream with four girls and four colors. But, it wouldn't be beyond possibility to say he may have discovered these connections later and worked them into RWBY. I mean, nature is a big deal in RWBY; we have four Maidens of the seasons, the girls of team RWBY who could also represent the seasons, there's the strange origin of Dust which seems to come from the planet, and there's the battle with the Grimm, all of whom are based on animals. (Perhaps that's Salem's game--the vengeance of nature.) So, who knows.


And so I must admit, I don't where RWBY is going. The Maidens theory is awfully tempting, but I don't believe our writers are that predictable. There's got to be more to this. Who knows? Maybe Volume 5 or even next week's Blake Character Short will give something away. Speaking of which, I'll be doing a video critique of Blake's Character Short for my YouTube channel, and I'll be covering it on my blog. But until then, I'm completely clueless. If you have some ideas, I'd love to steal them--I mean, hear them! Yes, hear them.

But, anyway, if you want to make sure you don't miss my criticism of Blake's Character Short, sign up to receive a notification about it on my RWBY mailing list here. And if you want to make sure I don't get a real job so I can keep writing about RWBY, support me on Patreon. I'd appreciate it.

Keep writing, my friends.

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This blog is not endorsed by Rooster Teeth in any way. Views, opinions, and thoughts are all my own. Rooster Teeth and RWBY are trade names or registered trademarks of Rooster Teeth Productions, LLC. © Rooster Teeth Productions, LLC.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Tales of Horror Excerpt: The Serpent

Hey, everyone.

Continuing with the idea of posting excerpts from my book Tales of Horror: Macabre Monsters of Michigan, here's another one, this time from The Serpent. Unfortunately, you can't download if for free anymore, but it's still only $.99 for Kindle and $4.99 for the paperback. Get it here:

And if you want to make sure you don't miss any excerpts or updates on my books, subscribe to my Books and Other Writings mailing list: And if you're into cryptozoology and the paranormal, why not subscribe to my mailing list so I can keep you apprised of the world of weird:

Alright, here's the excerpt. It's from my short story The Serpent. It's about a research team looking for a lake monster. They find it, but what it's not something of our world.

The village of Ontonagon settled on either side of the river that bore its namesake. Its inhabitants were only beginning to wake up and carry out the mundane tasks of small town living while an expedition was getting underway at the local docks.
A group of men, six strong, were preparing a boat on the shimmering waters of Lake Superior for a three-day search of the fathomless depths for a rare and unique phenomenon. To search for this phenomenon, they loaded some unique equipment including scuba gear, a sonar, various cameras including an underwater camera, a couple of long, short wooden chests, and a hydrophone.
At that time, a seventh man approached the dock from Ontonagon holding a cheap, gas station coffee and wearing sunglasses to hide the disappointment in his new surroundings.
“Ah! Dr. Dorian, I presume!”
“Mr. Burke?” replied Dorian to a bearded and slightly overweight middle-aged man.
“Correct, sir!” he said, shaking Dorian’s hand. “When did you get in?”
“Last night. Geez, that’s a small airport.”
“Ontonagon is a small town,” said a third man with a slender and scrappy build. “We’re lucky to have an airport.”
“Dr. Dorian,” said Burke, “this upstanding fellow here is Michael Hicks, our historian.”
“Welcome to the expedition,” said Hicks.
“Pleasure,” said Dorian, sipping his coffee.
“Let me introduce you to the rest of our crew,” said Burke.
Dorian followed Burke aboard a well-worn fishing boat called the Ripley. Despite its appearance, the hull, sole, and deck all seemed to be structurally intact. The cockpit was a little larger than necessary and the flying bridge had been redone and updated at some point. It’s clean, plastic renovations didn’t match the wooden frame of the Ripley.
“These are our two technicians,” said Burke. “This is William Gorman, our sonar man, and Bill Hudson who’ll be handling the underwater camera and hydrophone.”
Gorman was a slender man with a no-nonsense air and short hair. Hudson however was a little pasty and unimpressive with a round face.
“Tell me, something, Mr. Gorman,” began Dorian, “do you know how to work a sonar?”
“Do you think four years of active duty in the Navy is enough?”
“Oh? Yeah, that’s impressive. And Mr. Hudson—”
“Hudson’s fine, Dorian.”
Doctor Dorian, if you please. I didn’t get a Ph.D. for fun, you know.”
“Then why did you get it, Doctor Dorian?”
“Because I like fish and junk.”
“You a marine biologist or something?”
“Close. I’m actually a marine zoologist. Marine biology covers both plants and animals, whereas I specialize in animals only.”
“Oh, good. We could use a man like you on this team.”
“So I’ve heard. Anyway, Hudson, do you have a lot of experience handling underwater cameras and hydrophones?”
“I did an internship at NOAA.”
Dorian raised his eyebrows. “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration? Damn. This crew is a little more technical than I thought it would be. I just expected a bunch of Michigan bumpkins.”
“Present,” said a man from the corner of the cockpit. He looked to be in his sixties and wore a fishing vest and hat. He was slicing up fish and dropping the parts into a giant barrel before him.
“I’m a Michigan bumpkin.”
“This is Lance Fox,” explained Burke. “He’s our Lake Superior expert and a local fisherman.”
“Mr. Fox,” said Dorian, regarding him.
“Lance is fine.”
“Why are you slicing up fish, Lance? Will we be chumming the waters?”
“You never know.”
Dorian frowned.
“And finally,” began Burke, “the skipper of our ship is Bobby Quint.”
Robert,” corrected a man from atop the flying bridge. He appeared to be in his fifties with bushy mutton chops and a mustache. He had a hard face and wore a fishing jacket similar to Lance’s vest. “And don’t call me skipper. Or Robert. Just Quint. But if you call me Quinty, I’ll be throwing you overboard. And there’s no need to call me ‘Captain’ unless you intend on permanently joining my crew.”
“I think I’ll stick with Quint,” said Dorian.
“Good man. And who are you?”
“Gentlemen,” said Burke, “this is the renowned marine zoologist, Dr. Christopher Dorian.”
The others were quiet.
“Never heard of him,” said Quint.
“Well, if you lived in Miami, you would,” replied Dorian.
“Don’t get snarky with me, Dorian. I don’t care who you were in the world. You slip up out here and you’ll be tossed overboard. This ain’t Miami.”
“What’s a ‘renowned’ marine zoologist doing in Michigan?” asked Hicks.
“I asked him to join us,” said Burke. “It took some convincing, but I’m sure he’ll be perfect!”
“Burke assured me this would be the crowning achievement of my career,” said Dorian.
Hicks laughed.
“I know how you feel.”
But then Burke said, “Oh, come, come, gentlemen. This is an extraordinary adventure. As far as we all know, we are the first ones to ever launch a scientific expedition in search of the elusive Superior Serpent!”
“Basically, Lake Superior’s Loch Ness monster,” quipped Quint.
“In a matter of speaking.”
“Oh, geez,” mumbled Dorian. He looked at his coffee. “I wish this was scotch.”
“And that’s why you’re here?” said Hicks. “You really believe that this will be the crowning achievement of your career?”
Dorian shrugged. “It could be. What are you doing here?”
“I’m a historian. I know the shores of Lake Superior, its history, and its legends like the back of my ass.”
“As for me,” began Hudson, “this ain’t my first sea monster hunt, man.”
“Let’s hope it’s not your last,” said Burke cheerfully.
“What about you, Gorman?”
“You see all sorts of crazy shit in the military. There are plenty of things out there that the top brass never perfectly explains. I’m going because I want to be closer to the truth of this world.”
“I grew up with stories about the Superior Serpent. I don’t think it exists personally, but what an incredible find it would be if it did exist. Plus, I’d like to know who my competition is.” Lance chuckled.
“I don’t give an ass rat’s about monsters. I’m just here to steer the boat.”
“What’s your interest in all this, Burke?”
“My dear fellow, I am a cryptozoologist! It is my business to look for weird and wacky creatures that may be unknown to science. Why, I spent an entire year in Puerto Rico looking for el chupacabra. And then there was my brief sojourn in Virginia digging up clues about the lizardman. My passion is to search the world over and look for monsters!”
“You ever find any?”
Burke chuckled. “If I told you, I may have to kill you.”
“That sounds familiar,” said Gorman. “Except none of the higher-ups ever joked about it.”
Hicks eyed Dorian.
 “Are you really just here for the career boost? I mean, if you’re so renowned, why take the gamble on such a shitty little backwater investigation like this? And why are you ‘renowned?’ No one here has ever heard of you.”
“Dr. Dorian is renowned,” began Burke, “because he is slated to be one of only a handful of people who will be working at the South Pacific Research Facility.”
Some eyebrows rose.
“Isn’t that part of the Deep Sea Research Program?” said Lance. “The one where they’re building research facilities on the ocean floor?”
“That’s right,” said Dorian. “The South Pacific facility will be just off the coast of South America.”
“But they’re not supposed to be finished until 2065.”
Dorian shrugged. “That’s only five years away.”
“How’d you get that distinction?” asked Gorman.
“About a year or two ago, I was part of a paleontological research team in Chile that was looking for extinct marine reptiles. During a dig, we came across a full fossilized skeleton of an unknown marine reptile.”
“Wait a second,” said Hudson. “I think I heard about this in the news. There was something strange about the skeleton, wasn’t there? Like, someone said it looked like the Biblical Leviathan?”
“Yes…” sighed Dorian. “One of the grad students said that. Anyway, it was an unusual find because it didn’t look like anything we’ve seen before. Dr. Cope said he thought it could be an early ancestor to the Tylosaurus. But the reason it shook the paleontology community was because of its dragon-like skull. It wasn’t long and narrow like a regular marine reptile’s head. It was shorter and almost ended in an overbite like a crocodile’s. And it had several horns sticking out the back of its head.”
“I thought dragons were reptiles,” said Quint.
“Depends on who you ask,” replied Burke. “Some people consider them to be a type of ‘serpent’ which can be a vague term for anything long and snake-like.”
“And so finding this dragon-like marine reptile is how you secured your position at the deep research facility?” asked Hicks.
“More or less. The investors were interested in seeing if there’s anything alive today in that same area that has gone undiscovered. Thinking me an expert, they supported my nomination.”
“But that’s not all!” said Burke. “You were also quoted in an interesting article in an issue of Marine Life magazine.”
“Yeah…” said Dorian, sighing again. “In Miami, we were testing claims that dolphins are psychic. We left children that couldn’t swim in a tank of water. They had life jackets, and we were nearby, so they weren’t in any real danger. But they were still in distress. It was our hope that the dolphins would save the children by pushing them to the edge of the tank where we could grab them.
“We developed other tests—I can’t really tell you about them as I wasn’t in charge of the experiments. Hell, I barely understood the pseudoscience mumbo-jumbo that the head researcher was throwing around. But the other tests included testing the psychic prowess of other marine animals including whales, certain kinds of fish, and even sharks. In some of the tests, both the whales’ and sharks’ results were better than random.
“So, I said that in theory it’s possible that sharks are psychic. Marine Life grabbed onto that quote and used it to headline the article. So…”
“So, you’re no stranger then to marine paranormal phenomenon?” said Gorman.
“Indeed!” said Burke. “And that’s one of the reasons why I asked him to come with us.”
“Look,” said Dorian, “it was just a theory, and I barely believe that dolphins are psychic. Hell, I don’t even believe in human psychics. And I don’t believe in sea monsters.”
“But you must have some interest in the subject,” concluded Hicks.
“How so?”
“Look where you are. And by your own free will.”
Burke suddenly looked excited.
Dorian’s eyes narrowed. “Like I said, it’s for my career.”
“Burke!” called Quint. “Do we intend to find this super snake or what?”
“You’re so right, Quint. We must hurry.”
“Then finish packing the gear and let’s get on with it!”
Everyone except for Dorian ran around and finished loading up the boat. When they were done, Quint started the boat’s engine and took off heading west along the shoreline of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
As they went, a mountain ridge raised out of the ground back on the mainland. There looked like there as something covering the mountains.
“What is that?” Dorian asked. “Looks like a burnt out forest.”
“It’s a burnt out forest,” said Hicks.
“Okay… Why is it burnt out?”
Hicks looked at Lance, and they both shook their heads.
“It used to be the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. It caught fire and burned down about six years ago.”
“Bummer. Shame to lose a whole state park like that.”
“You’re telling me,” said Lance. “I grew up with the Porkies. Hiking, camping, fishing, skiing, boating. There wasn’t anything you couldn’t do in the Porkies.”
“Had to watch out for the black bear though,” said Hicks.
“Yeah. They could be a problem. My father always carried a gun.” Lance looked back at the forest longingly. “I’ll never forgive that bastard.”
“Your father?” said Dorian.
“No, the asshole who burned it down.”
Dorian lifted his eyebrows. “It wasn’t a natural disaster?”
“No. It was man-made.”
“I hate people.”
“Join the club,” said Hicks.
Dorian turned back to the cockpit. “So, Burke, what the hell are we looking for?”
“The Superior Serpent!”
“No shit. But what exactly is it? What does it look like?”
“Oh! Well, there are quite a few interesting tales. About a year ago, a woman and her daughter said they saw a big black snake-like creature floating on top of the water. The woman estimated it to be twelve feet long.”
“Sounds like a log to me.”
“Not so! They watched it for nearly ten minutes before it submerged itself. In another tale, a local of Ontonagon says he saw it while bowfishing. He said that a long, black serpent swam up to the surface, chomped down on his catch as he was reeling it in and took it away, bow, arrow, and all! He estimated it to be fifteen feet long and a foot wide!” said Burke with a squeak.
“That’s… pretty big. Had he been drinking?”
“No,” said Lance. “That was Clark Lewis. He never touches the stuff.”
“The last report—”
“Is mine,” finished Hicks. “I was doing some research near the Presque Isle River. We’re coming up on it now,” said Hicks, pointing to an open waterway. “When suddenly, myself, a ranger, and two state officials saw this big, black serpent swimming around the mouth of the river. We walked to the beach for a closer look and the thing surfaced. We didn’t get a very clear look at it, but I swear to you…”
Dorian leaned in.
“It had burning red eyes.”
Dorian looked disappointed. He looked down at his coffee wishing once again it was scotch.
“You don’t believe me.”
“Why would I? I mean, burning red eyes? On a sea creature? Have you been watching too many movies?”
“Hardly. What’s really interesting is that the creature has its origin in Native American myth. The Ojibwe called it the ‘misiginebig.’ It translates to ‘great serpent,’ and was said to have horns on its head and eat humans. It was a natural enemy of the Thunderbirds.”
“Naturally!” said Dorian. “You know those Thunderbirds. They hate serpents swimming around the lakes and pissing in the rivers. The Thunderbirds drink that water.”
Hicks shook his head.
As they neared the Presque Isle River mouth, Quint slowed the boat. “Burke! We’re here.”
“Good. Hudson! Drop the hydrophone and let’s see what we can pick up.”
Dorian furrowed his brow. “What’re we listening for? Fish don’t typically make any noise.”
“There’s a theory,” explained Burke, “that some sea monsters use echolocation. There’s a recording from Lake Champlain where a sophisticated creature of some kind was definitely using echolocation.”
“Is that right?” Dorian laughed. “The stories say it’s a serpent, which means it’s likely an eel, but damn echolocation! That would imply we’re chasing a mammal. What the hell?”
“If you don’t like the adventure so far, you can jump out,” said Hicks.
“I’m fine, thanks.”
“Hudson!” said Burke.
“Hydrophone is in the water,” he replied, lowering a black cable over the side. “Now, we just have to hook it up to the computer.” Hudson stepped down into the cabin. He opened his laptop and started clacking at the keyboard.
“The rest of you,” said Burke, “keep your eyes peeled.”
Quint took out a newspaper and started reading it.
A few hours passed and they bobbed up and down on the Superior.
“Hudson?” said Burke. “Anything?”
“So far zippo.”
“Perhaps we should try a different location.”
“Maybe, boss.”
Burke was about to tell Quint to move the boat when Lance came into the cabin. “Hey, Burke. I don’t like the look of the sky. It’s starting to get a little sketchy. I think a storm is moving in.”
“How much time do we have?”
Lance shrugged. “Two hours or less.”
“That’s plenty of time.”
“I don’t think—”
“Burke! Burke!”
“What is it, Hudson?!”
“Holy shit! Listen to this!”
Burke took the headphones from Hudson, and as he listened, he was torn between a smile and perplexity.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Writing Theory: Dialogue Tags

Hey, everyone. So, let's talk about writing. This week's topic is dialogue tags.

I know it may sound a bit queer, but when it comes to the craft of writing, the technical aspects as well as the art and philosophy can drive some writers crazy as they think about how a sentence or phrase should be constructed. For whatever reason, you forget your basic grammar and English lessons, and start making things up as you go along. Places that you used to throw commas in every time you saw them are now comma-less. Other times, places that don't seem to need commas have them all over the place. You convince yourself that commas are needed. And then you begin to find new uses for a colon or semi-colon. It can get quite confusing. That's one of the reasons why it's so important to read stuff that isn't by you so you don't get stuck in your echo chamber of absurdity.

But, I don't want to talk about punctuation. Generally, the rules for punctuation are pretty stout and going over a quick tips blog or pin on Pinterest is all that's needed to straighten you out. No. This week, I want to talk about dialogue tags. Why? Well, I was editing my upcoming book Heroes of Majestia: The Company of Flight, and I began to see some things differently with regards to the dialogue tags. I started seeing things that I'm not entirely sure of whether or not they're there.

Now, generally, there are some good guidelines for dialogue tags, such as don't be redundant:

"Don't do that!" he shouted.

In this sentence, there's no need to specify "shouted" because the context or the situation as well as the phrase itself tells us that he is shouting. Advice from Stephen King in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (get it here) says to only stick to he said, she said. I will agree that this makes sense when the context of the situation is understood. There's no need to say someone is saying something excitedly if there's an exclamation mark at the end of the sentence and the character is bouncing up and down in the scene. But, with regards to redundancy, what about when a new character speaks?

"Is that dynamite?" asked Ted.
"Yes," replied Fred. "I'm going to drop a match on it."
"No, don't!" shouted Sally.

In the above scenario, it makes sense for Sally to say what she does, but here's the question: should it read "No, don't!" said Sally? To be honest, that sounds strange to me. Given the emotion of the scene, it makes sense to say she shouted. Not to mention, a new character is introduced in that sentence, or a new character is speaking. If it were Ted saying, "No, don't!" we could ignore a dialogue tag. So, where does that leave us?

Well, I think the way it's written in the example is the best way to do it. It conveys the emotion of the scene and serves a double purpose by introducing Sally. Now, some people may argue it would be better if that scene was written like this:

 "Is that dynamite?" asked Ted.
"Yes," replied Fred. "I'm going to drop a match on it."
Sally rushed forward and snatched the match from Fred. "No, don't!"

I will admit, that does add a bit of flavor and does do away with the redundancy, but as many of you (writers) are aware, you will come across times when it isn't appropriate to add the extra action and flavor. But overall, it is better.

But, what I really wanted to talk about with regards to dialogue tags is the verb subject order. For instance, should it be Daven asked or asked Daven?

"Should I go, too?" asked Daven.

"Should I go, too?" Daven asked.

Now, they convey the same information, but I think there's a slight contextual difference, and I'm not too sure how to describe it, but I'll try.

In the first example, that's the simple as you like it version. It would be acceptable in all possible contexts, no questions asked. But in the second example, it sort of feels like Daven interrupted or like him asking a question is an added bit. It isn't necessary for Daven to ask that question--his part wasn't even considered in the scenario.

I think what it comes down to is if you were to list every part of the sentence from most important to least important, the most important would obviously be the dialogue. I mean, it does come first in the sentence and without it, Daven and asked are completely unnecessary. But when you come to what's the second most important, this is where things get tricky. What's more important: that a question is being asked by Daven, or that Daven is the one asking the question? That's why I say the second example sounds like Daven is interrupting because since his name comes before the verb, the focus is more on him than the fact he asked a question. That makes sense to me.

Moving on, there was one other thing I wanted to cover and that was when a dialogue tag precedes the dialogue.

Daven asked, "Should I go, too?"

And the question is, is this scenario any different from the ones above? Because here it seems like the emphasis, the most important aspect to this bit of dialogue, is that Daven asked this question. That's all well and good, but when I came across a bit like this in my writing, it didn't sound right to me, and I'm not too sure why. I think it had something to with the fact that I decided to change the order of the sentence because every bit of dialogue before that had had the same order. It was dialogue, then dialogue tag, if it was needed. So, I mixed it up changing it to dialogue tag then dialogue. And I think that's why it didn't feel right--because it wasn't necessary.

Another issue with it is that since the emphasis is placed on the character and not the line of dialogue, it seems to suggest that there's something important about the fact that the character said this, like it's an interruption, important to the plot, or it signifies that Daven hasn't spoken in a while, as if we need to be reminded he's there. And I think that was what really bothered me about it--the character who started off the sentence didn't need to remind the audience he was there as there were only four characters in the scene and he last spoke not too long ago.

So, what can we conclude?

1. When it comes to dialogue tags, don't be redundant,

"Don't do it!" he shouted.
"What is that?" she asked.

2. It's almost acceptable to do that when a new character enters, but it's better if there's some sort of action to accompany their dialogue (remember: show, don't tell),

"Do you like it?"
Ralph threw it at the wall where it shattered. "No! I don't like it!"

3. The order of a line of dialogue and dialogue tag all depends on what is more important: the dialogue itself or the character who said it.

"Therefore, we're going to need a sheep," said Jeremy.

Sarah spoke up, "Only I can do it."

So, hopefully that gives you all a little bit of insight into using dialogue tags. If you think I'm way of base or that I missed something, feel free to tell me in the comments below. But, if you think this helped you, please consider joining my mailing list here so you can keep getting helpful tips like this. Everyone who signs up will get my How to Outline Your Novel cheat sheet. And if you really like what I'm banging on about, please consider becoming my patron on Patreon.

Keep writing my friends.

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News: New Stuff Coming

Hey, everyone.

So, today I was thinking about how I don't have any Patreon supporters yet, and I was wondering what was causing it. Not being popular enough is certainly a contributing factor, but then I started looking at my blog. I have several series going on right now, and regarding a couple of them, I'm fairly certain most people will expect me to keep them up regardless of whether I'm broke or not. Even if it requires me to get a job that doesn't allow me a lot of time to write, which I may have to do which will cut into my writing. Things that I've been updating weekly will probably only be updated once every two weeks instead. So, I have a quandary: how do I get more Patreon supporters, and how do I get people to care about whether or not I upload on a timely manner? It's sort of the same question.

But, I've been thinking about it, and I thought I may not update weekly--make it one of my Patreon goals to upload weekly. That might work. But, I think it would be better if I could offer something that I don't usually do. I was thinking something along the lines of flash fiction or very short stories where I toy around with ideas for novels that I may or may not pick up later. So, that could be a thing. But, what is definitely coming to this blog is a News page because I need one so I can keep everyone up-to-date with what I'm doing. So, here it is.

If you guys have any recommendations on what I could do to get people to care and become my patrons, I wouldn't mind hearing about them in the comments below. And if you are interested in becoming my patron, click here.

Keep writing my friends.

Friday, August 25, 2017

RWBY: The Novelization: "Black" Trailer

In the forest of Forever Fall, a wood of constant autumn within the borders of the Kingdom of Vale, there was a ragtag group of terrorists called the White Fang founded by the animal-like race of Faunus. Stolen weapons, resources, and Dust littered their campsite. Their leader, a man named Adam Taurus, exited a tent. He was tall with red spiked hair and wore a black suit with a red shirt and black trench coat. He wore a white mask over his face and carried a sheathed katana in his hand.
Adam ran his hand through his hair and over his ox antlers as he walked out to a deserted area of the forest near the camp. There he found who he was looking for: a girl of seventeen with long black hair and wearing a black bow. She wore a black vest with coattails over a white cropped shirt, black, ankle high boots, white shorts and full length stockings that had a color gradient from black to violet at her ankles. She was sitting on a boulder and looking up at the sky.
“Blake,” called Adam. “It’s time.”
Blake turned to him and looked unusually sad. “Okay.”
Blake and Adam took off dashing through the forest barely leaving a trail. They came to a cliff with a steep hillside overlooking a set of train tracks. In the distance, a whistle blew and a freight train loaded with shipping containers displaying the crest of the Schnee Dust Company was coming.
As it passed, Blake and Adam jumped onto the steep incline and slid down it throwing up fallen leaves. They jumped as they neared the bottom and landed on one of the boxcars. They ran and jumped to the next car. Adam casually flicked his wrist and slashed open a hatch which they dropped into.
Adam looked back at Blake. “Looks like we’re going to be doing this the hard way.”
Blake looked up and a platoon of Atlesian Knight-130’s jumped to life.
“Don’t be so dramatic,” said Blake.
The AK-130s’ sensors turned red. They held up their hands and their fingers became machine gun barrels. One turned to Adam and said, “Intruder; identify yourself.”
Adam responded by pulling a trigger on his sheath and shot his sword into the head of the AK. Adam dashed, caught his sword, and with blindingly quick slashes, he destroyed the AK and replaced his sword to its sheath.
The other AK’s sprouted blades where their hands were and charged. Blake jumped backward into two oncoming Knights and hacked them apart with her black machete which had a long black ribbon attached to its haft. She dashed forward and she and Adam went to work hacking and slashing the AK’s as they closed in.
One AK started shooting machine gun fire from its fingers and Adam shielded them by slicing the projectiles out of the air. Blake surged forward and slashed two more AK’s in her way before unsheathing her true sword, a katana within the machete sheath, and cut the AK down at the knees before slashing its head open.
Blake continued moving forward using both her katana and sheath to cut down AK’s as they got in her way. They were no match for her dual blades as they danced and circled through the air. One Knight was launched into the air and Adam kicked it through a door leading out onto a neighboring flatcar.
Several more AK-130’s sprang to life and charged them.
“Let’s do this!” said Adam.
He drew his katana and killed the first two. Blake leapt forward and transformed her katana into a kusarigama by collapsing the katana and a gun barrel slid out. As Blake threw it forward, she shot the gun giving it more force. She grabbed the ribbon attached to the handle and pulled it taut. There was another shot and it returned to her slashing AK’s as it went. She flipped into the air and pulled the ribbon every which way shooting the attached gun every time and destroying the surrounding AK’s as it went.
Once a path was cleared, Adam charged forward and slew another seven AK’s with some deft blade work. Blake brought up the rear with her katana back in shape and cleaned up the rest of the Atlesian Knights.
With the androids taken care of, Blake and Adam proceeded into the next boxcar where they found a steel chest.
Adam opened it. “Perfect!” he said. “Move up to the next car. I’ll set the charges.”
“What about the crew members?” asked Blake a little worried.
“What about them?” said Adam in a harsh tone.
Suddenly, a Spider Droid dropped down from the boxcar’s ceiling on four legs. It had two large cannons on either hand and the same configuration on shoulder mounted cannons.
The Spider Droid charged its eight cannons and fired multiple shots. Adam managed to dodge every shot while Blake dodged and dashed straight at it. She leapt at the war machine, but it countered her by headbutting her and knocked her down.
Blake landed on the ground heavily, and as the Spider Droid stepped over her, Adam leapt in and made several slashes against it, but didn’t do any serious damage.
The Droid kicked Adam back and then shot several rounds at him. He dodged every one.
The Droid considered Blake and threatened to crush her under one of its pointed legs. Adam materialized out of thin air, grabbed Blake and headed for the other end of the train car where he put her down.
“We need to get out of here,” said Blake.
The Spider Droid combined its eight cannons together into one giant charged particle cannon. It charged a beam and fired. Adam placed himself between Blake and the beam, but the force of it alone was strong to enough to knock him and Blake through the steel wall behind them onto the next flatcar.
Blake and Adam struggled to their feet and the Spider Droid followed them onto the car.
“Buy me some time!” said Adam.
“Are you sure?”
“Do it!” he ordered.
Blake dashed at the Droid while Adam stood there and found his center.
Blake dodged several more shots and then leapt into the air slashing at the Droid’s undercarriage, but turned her katana into the kusarigama and jumped into the air. Once at the end of the ribbon, she pulled it and shot the gun further slashing the Droid. She spun as she fell and slashed the Droid several more times.
On the ground, she pulled her weapon back, turned it back into a katana and proceeded to dash all around the Droid hacking and slashing as she went. The Droid tried to shoot her once, but the blast hit one of her Shadow Clones, her Semblance, and she advanced without taking any damage.
Blake appeared in the Droid’s face and held down the trigger on her gun firing it fully automatic until the magazine was empty. She retreated back to Adam’s side when the Spider Droid prepared to fire its charged particle cannon again.
Adam ordered her to move, and as the Droid fired its cannon, Adam unsheathed his sword part way and absorbed the entire beam into his blade. He quickly sheathed his sword and laughed. The Droid leapt at him, but Adam shot his sword into his hand and slashed upward cutting the Spider Droid in two.
After the Droid fell, Adam sheathed his sword and looked for Blake. He turned and saw her on the next car.
“What’re you doing?” he asked.
Blake looked like she was close to crying. “Your hopes have become my burden. Goodbye,” she said, slashing the car’s coupling. The following train cars automatically braked, and Blake disappeared into the darkness of the night with the advancing engine.

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RWBY: The Novelization is not endorsed by Rooster Teeth in any way. Views, opinions, and thoughts are all my own. Rooster Teeth and RWBY are trade names or registered trademarks of Rooster Teeth Productions, LLC. © Rooster Teeth Productions, LLC.

Crypto Theory: Are Cryptids Demons?

Hey, everyone.

So, the promotion for my book went well... I think. And hopefully, I should have enough good reviews soon to increase the price suitably. Course though, once my get my father's feedback and fix the mistakes he found. But, despite that, get Tales of Horror: Macabre Monsters of Michigan while it's still $.99 for Kindle and $4.99 for paperback.

Anyway, continuing on with last week's theme of looking into what cryptids are and where they come from, we have a different theory to look at today. And it is...

That's right. Demons. Could cryptids be agents of evil or of the Devil sent to terrorize humans? Or, even the punishment for our sins? Let's take a closer look at this, and examine some of the evidence.

Exhibit A

Aside from a few cases, most sightings of Dogmen and other cryptids are always accompanied by fear. Fear so strong that some witnesses suffer from PTSD and they just shut down. Some people's lives have been ruined by their encounters. How could seeing an animal or even just an undocumented creature result in such bad juju? People used be to be superstitious about black cats, but my friend John had a black cat named Harry. Aside from being a bit of a porker, Harry wanted for nothing more than to curl up in someone's lap and be pet. I never had any bad luck after petting Harry. So perhaps, the Dogman and other "creatures" are not just creatures at all.

Exhibit B

In one particular episode on the podcast Dogman Encounters Radio, one paranormal investigator was looking for the Dogman when suddenly, a psychic he knew was startled out of a dead sleep from hundreds of miles away because she believed she saw something evil in her dreams. It disturbed her so much, she got out of bed and did a cleansing of her entire house. She then called the investigator to find out what he had been poking his nose into. To many of us, that seems a more than a bit much, but notice that her dream frightened her so much she did a cleansing of her house--that is to say, she purified her house and probably performed some sort of ritual to protect it. That's pretty hardcore.

Exhibit C

Renowned Dogman reporter Linda Godfrey has put forth her own theory that cryptids could be manifestations of desecrated Native American burial mounds. According to Godfrey, most of these mounds are dedicated to an animal spirit, such as a bear, wolf, or panther, and so she believes that the desecration of these mounds may have angered the spirits of the dead into manifesting themselves as vengeful ghosts. I also remember reading Godfrey's book Real Wolfmen: True Encounters in Modern America where eyewitness Lorianne Endrizzi is reported to having said, "To this day, I believe it was Satanic," when she had her encounter with a Dogman in Elkhorn, Wisconsin.

Exhibit D

There's an old cryptid hunting show out there called Animal X: Natural Mystery Unit. It's one of my favorites because the show host, Bill Kerr (RIP), was so over the top in his presentation. But in their episode on el Chupacabra, one of the investigators, Natalie Schmitt, says that some people believe el Chupacabra to be a demon come to punish humanity for its mistreatment of the planet.

I'd think that was a demon.

Exhibit E

And speaking of demons, I'm reminded of a very interesting story from Nick Redfern's book Three Men Seeking Monsters. In chapter 10, "The Sky Beast," Redfern and his friends meet the eccentric and terrified Colin Perks in Glastonbury, England. Perks is an archaeologist who believes he is well on his way to uncovering the burial site of King Arthur. But during his research, he met a woman named Sarah Key who Perks later discovered was an agent for Ministry Intelligence, Section 5. Miss Key urged Perks not to dig any further into what he had uncovered otherwise he might open a portal into another world, and to prevent that from happening, Miss Key issued a vague threat of something possibly visiting Perks.

Well, Perks didn't listen. As a result, he was beset upon by a strange and unusual creature that I call the Glastonbury Gargoyle. Just thinking about it gives me chills. This is how the creature is described:

[...]it was a hideous creature that Perks could only describe as a gargoyle.
     Around seven feet in height and pale-skinned, it had thin and almost emaciated limbs. Attached to its arms and upper body were two large and leathery wings that reminded Perks of a giant bat. As his headlights struck the creature, he could see that its bones shone through its skin and appeared almost hollow. But most horrific of all was the creature's head: bald and with two large and pointed ears, its glowing, red eyes stared at him. An evil grin crossed its hook-nosed face and appeared to mock him, while two large fangs extended down from a wide and black-tongued mouth.

This image is actually from Monsters and Mysteries in America.

In a too close for comfort experience where the creature manifested itself in his bedroom, Perks learned from the Gargoyle that the resting place of King Arthur was actually a burial site that kept a portal closed that could unleash all sorts of hellish creatures upon the world. The Gargoyle himself claimed to be a servant of the old kings of England put there to prevent such a thing from happening.

Then later on in chapter 12, "Doggone Animals," Redfern and crew meet a woman named Diane Facer who had carried out extensive research on phantom black dogs in England. They tell the story to Diane and she wonders if the portal they're talking about is the gateway to Hell. Up until that point, none of them had thought that, but it sounded about right especially given the description of the Glastonbury Gargoyle. It may sound strange that a demon is preventing other demons from being released, but there are many stories about ancient cultures putting supernal powers under their control. So why not?

Exhibit F

Looking at the eastern US, there's another unusual tale I remember that comes from Point Pleasant, West Virginia. That's right--Mothman! But not Mothman himself. This actually has to do with the Men In Black.

In Mothman: The Facts Behind the Legend by Donnie Sergeant Jr. and Jeff Wamsley, they conducted an interview with legendary eyewitness Linda Scarberry. During the interview, she spoke of an interesting incident with an MIB where one apparently stormed into her kitchen. She and a friend were there and tried asking it a few questions. It didn't respond and instead went to light a cigarette. Suddenly, it looked up when the reflection of the lighter flame was caught by a gold plated crucifix that was hanging on the wall. According to Scarberry, the MIB fled immediately. Unless the MIB's are huge antitheists, this makes them look like lesser forms of evil.

Exhibit G

Now, if we're going to talk about cryptids as being possibly devils or demons, there are several named for demons and devils: devil dogs, the Dover Demon, why, even renowned cryptozoologist Loren Coleman got his start when he encountered a phantom panther that he claims attacked him. But, if we're going to talk demons and devils, would be remiss if I didn't mention the most famous of them all, the Jersey Devil.

Personally, I believe the Dover Demon was an ET of some sort, but devil dogs and JD are harder to explain away. Devil dogs are supposed to be harbingers of death and other foul things, while the Jersey Devil has been haunting the Pine Barrens for almost 300 years. In some versions of the JD legend, Mother Leeds is a witch and the father was the Devil himself, which seems to make a good case for the JD actually being a devil of some kind.


So then, is it case closed on Dogman, el Chupacabra, and the Jersey Devil? Are they the spawn of Hell? Without definitive evidence, we can't say really, but the evidence, as it is, does make for a compelling case.

Personally, I don't believe most cryptids are demons, but for my money, this is the second most likely explanation in a majority of cases. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the Dogman turned out to be a demon. Some may scoff, and ask how demons can interact with the real world, but remember, Jesus Christ was both fully man and fully God. Not to mention poltergeist activity in people's homes such as objects flying across the room on their own. So, the idea that the spiritual can affect the physical is not a road block in the slightest.

But, that'll have to do for now. Next week, I'll be looking at what I think the most likely explanation is: PK Manifestations. To make sure you don't miss it, join my mailing list to receive notifications here. Those on my mailing list will be told first about any new posts I make. And remember to pick up a copy of my book: Tales of Horror: Macabre Monsters of Michigan.

So then, until next week, keep writing, my friends.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

RWBY Speculation: Why Have So Many Fans Become Disenchanted?

Hey there, everyone. With this post, I'm starting a new series called RWBY Speculation. It's like RWBY Theory, but it's different... somehow. Anyway, what's the first post about?

Yes. It is true. Believe it or not, some fans have become disenchanted with RWBY following Volume 4. But why is this? Well, I have a theory.

With the advent of Vol. 4, there were many things that the fans weren't really pleased with. I can remember people complaining about the animation change and how the battles were no longer choreographed so that there was no wasted energy. Some of the issues I had with Vol. 4 was that the story was a mess filled with jump cuts, some of the story felt like filler and other times, it felt like something was missing. But, all of these complaints pale in comparison to what I think the real reason is.

The real reason is that RWBY fans in general were just disappointed with Vol. 4. Why? Well, the short answer is because it wasn't what they were expecting. The long answer... Are you ready for this? It might take a while. Are you sure? Okay. In order to understand why Vol. 4 was a disappointment, we must look back at Volume 3.

The End of the Beginning

There are major differences between Vol. 3 and 4. The big thing that sticks out is Vol. 3 was action packed! It grabbed us by the nuts and never let go. There was a major fight happening almost every episode. And then we had major plot development in the form of the Maidens, the introduction of Winter and Qrow, and the fact that Arkos fans saw an end to their badass case of blue balls followed by the ultimate cock block.

The end of the blue balls!

The ultimate cock block.

But then, Vol. 3 redefined what we all thought RWBY was about. In the beginning, it seemed like any basic anime: a character goes to a high school that trains warriors, she makes friends, there are some baddies and epic fights, there's teenage angst, and eventually there's a satisfying ending, but the ending takes place within the dynamic of the high school itself. That's not what happened with RWBY.

I don't remember where I heard this, it was in one of the commentaries of the first three volumes, but Miles and Kerry stated that Vol. 3 was still just the beginning of RWBY. That is to say, Vol. 3 is the climax of the intro, and then becomes the catalyst for the rest of the series. Vol. 1 and 2 were the set up; Vol. 3 is actually when we started getting into the story. Before we could understand the gravitas of the story, we had to know who our major players were and what made them tick. We had to know who they were and what they wanted before they were thrown out into a cold, harsh world so we would care about the strife they would go through.

Now, Team RWBY being thrust into the wide open world of Remnant isn't unpleasant or unlikeable in and of itself, although some of us are still upset over Pyrrha and Penny, the problem is that Vol. 3 ended with such a crescendo, such a bang, many fans thought Vol. 4 would be similar. But that's not what we got. Instead, we got a much more subdued story and tone. It also didn't seem to translate very well, and there were times when it was disregarded. For instance, the scene where Ruby laughs at Jaune's hoodie (which I absolutely hated). And I was disappointed not to see anything on the Arkos side. Sure, there was that one scene with Jaune training and the other where Ruby tried to apologize for Pyrrha's death, but neither of those scenes really added any depth to Jaune's character or how he was processing his first girlfriend's death. And perhaps that's the biggest problem.

Vol. 4 didn't add much to RWBY as a whole. It was a transition from RWBY's intro to its middle. As a result, nothing of major plot importance happened (as far as we can tell). Hell, even Qrow recovered from his wound and a lot of people thought he was going to die. I'm not saying he should have died, but considering that everything turned out all right in the end is a bit of a downer because all the tension from that part of the story was relieved. And great tension makes an epic story.

Hence, that's why I say Vol. 4 feels like filler. I understand why the transitional season was done and why it's necessary, but did it have to disappoint like it did? I mean, I understand how rising and falling tension works in a story, I couldn't call myself a writer if I didn't, but there didn't seem to be any rising tension in Vol. 4 as a whole. It still feels like the denouement/resolution of Vol. 3.

If you have problems understanding what I'm on about, think of RWBY like a romantic relationship. Vol. 1 was the first date: here we learned more about the pretty girls across from us, but we were both still too nervous to have much fun. Vol. 2 was the second date, and by this time, we're all much more comfortable with each other and we can actually have fun. Hell, there was even a goodnight kiss at the end. And then there was Vol. 3, the third date. Well, it wasn't so much a date as it was we just jumped into bed together and had a lot of fun.

So, when Vol. 3 ended, many fans thought that was the end of the third date, and that Vol. 4 was going to be the next chance to score. I mean, hell, we were even given a tease in the form of the Volume 4 Character Short. But that's not what actually happened. Due to Vol. 4's much calmer tone and slower movement, Vol. 4 turned out to be more like that cuddling session that happens after sex. By the end of Vol. 4, we had only just gotten out of bed. Hell, the Renora development was next morning's breakfast.


Which then begs the question: was Vol. 4 a disappointment, or are the fans just not familiar with how a story is structured? Hard to say because Volume 5 isn't out yet. When it is and depending on the fans' reactions, we'll have a better idea of whether Vol. 4 sucks or the fans suck.

So, to sum up, I think the reason why fans have become disenchanted with RWBY since Volume 4 is because it wasn't Volume 3, part 2. It just didn't have the same kind of impact, and as far as stories go, it wasn't really supposed to because the climax of tensions in Vol. 3 have been building up since Vol. 1. As a result, we need new tensions to build up now. And if Miles and Kerry stick to the three volume formula, we can expect Vol. 3, part 2 to be Volume 6. But right now, I'm going to put my money on Volume 7 just because Vol. 4 seemed so much to be the resolution of Vol. 3.

Anyway, that's all for this week. See you guys next time. And if you want to make sure you never miss a RWBY article, sign up here to receive updates. All those who sign up will get to see the newest RWBY: The Novelization entries a week ahead of everyone else.

Keep writing, my friends.

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This blog is not endorsed by Rooster Teeth in any way. Views, opinions, and thoughts are all my own. Rooster Teeth and RWBY are trade names or registered trademarks of Rooster Teeth Productions, LLC. © Rooster Teeth Productions, LLC.

Can You Pigeonhole Yourself through MBTI?

So, here’s a question for all you MBTI nerds: do you fear that knowing your personality type will pigeonhole you into acting a certain...