A Voice From The Dark

Back in my college days, I discovered a website full of reviewers. I went to this website everyday, falling in love with the community that came from such a unique group of people. Unfortunately, that community has fallen apart recently. The content creators have moved on, making their own videos on YouTube. However, there was still a part of me that misses the old camaraderie.

One month ago, Linkara, one of the biggest former content creators of the website I used to love, released a trailer for a project he’d been working on:

Now usually, I’m not into audio dramas. I could never get into Welcome to Nightvale because the show was way too absurd for me. However, the trailer was enough to get me interested. The first episode was released onto YouTube on June 17. I decided to blog about this in order to help promote the audio play.

Right from the start, the story immerses the listener into this creepy, atmospheric haunted house. The premise is simple enough: about a couple dozen content creators have gathered in Scarsdale Mansion for what they assumed would be some kind of escape room style party. Unfortunately, things start to go wrong right away as the house collapses and splits the producers into four different groups. The next few parts of the series unfold a nefarious plot involving some kind of monster called The Voice.

I tend to be picky when it comes to horror. One thing I can say is a benefit of this audio play is that it’s not really that gory. For one thing, it relies solely on pictures of the characters so that you know who’s talking, so there’s no visuals of blood or torture. There’s a room full of corpses that gets mentioned, but that’s about as gory as this story gets. It also plays on a lot of familiar horror tropes, such as the mad scientist, ghosts, and zombies.

What I love most about this audio drama, however, is the added catharsis factor. A lot of grievances get aired and it filled me with bittersweet longing for those happier times. (I’m actually kinda tearing up just thinking about it.) However, I do realize that the catharsis factor is a personal one for me.

With all that said, A Voice From The Dark holds really well on its own and I don’t think you don’t have to know all the details of what happened in order to fully enjoy it. If I was gonna recommend this to someone who had no clue who anyone was, I would say that this audio drama focuses on a group of people who used to work together and suffered from losing their sense of community.

The conclusion to this horrific tale will be uploaded to YouTube tomorrow. Have fun listening, but proceed with caution. You do not want to listen to all of it in the dark with the lights off.

So You Think You Can Write-Part 4.4: Dan Wells’ Seven-Point Plot

ghostface

Dan Wells is a famous horror and sci-fi author as well as one of the hosts of the podcast Writing Excuses. He also has a series of videos about story structure on YouTube.

Since Dan Wells is known for his horror novels, let’s analyze a horror movie tonight! One of my favorite horror movies is Wes Craven’s Scream, one of the best self-aware horror movies from 1996.

  • Ice Monster Prologue: This is an optional plot point. This gives the reader a “sneak preview” of what kind of world the story takes place in. The opening of the movie shows Drew Barrymore’s character, Casey, on the phone with a stranger as she makes popcorn. They talk about horror movies, which, at the time, was a unique, self-aware concept. Then the killer challenges Casey to a trivia game while holding her boyfriend hostage and attacks her. The scene where Casey gets killed and gutted is horrific, even by today’s standards.
  • Hook: Sidney, the true protagonist of the series, is established as an ordinary high school girl whose dad will be leaving town for the weekend. She has a boyfriend named Billy who wants to have sex with her. However, since this is a horror movie, Sidney is a virgin and won’t have sex. In a subversion of usual horror virgins, however, Sidney has a legit reason for not wanting to have sex, which is explained later in the movie.
    • Character Arc: Dan Wells also says that there are things that need to be interspersed throughout the story, such as subplots and character arcs. This is when we find out that Sidney’s mother was apparently sleeping around on her dad and that Sidney found her mother’s bloody corpse.
    • Subplot 1: Sidney’s circle of friends gets introduces. Aside from her boyfriend, we also meet her best friend, Tatum, her brother, Deputy Dewey, Randy, the movie geek, and Stu, Tatum’s boyfriend.
  • Plot Turn 1: Something happens that upsets the stauts quo. Sidney gets a call from the killer while waiting to hang out with Tatum. What really makes this personal for Sidney is that the killer claims to be the one who killed her mother.
  • Pinch 1: Sidney goes to the police station to file a report on Billy and encounters Gail Weathers, a tabloid journalist who is advocating for the innocence of Cotton Weary, the man accused of murdering Sidney’s mother. Over at Tatum’s house, Sidney contemplates whether or not Billy is the one who tried to kill her.
  • Try/Fail Cycle: A type of plot point that combines character arc with action. In Scream, Billy gets released from police custody. Gail connects the recent deaths to the death of Sidney’s mother. Sidney overhears two girls gossiping about her in the girls’ bathroom and then gets attacked by Ghostface. School lets out early, but a city-wide curfew gets established.
    • Subplot 2: The school principal gets murdered by Ghostface after disciplining two students pulling pranks. Sidney and Tatum have a talk about whether Cotton is truly innocent and whether the rumors about Sidney’s mother were true. Stu and Randy speculate on who the killer could be at the local movie rental store.
  • Midpoint: This is when the character decides to take action. This happens at Stu’s house. Billy arrives in hopes of talking with Sidney. The two of them go upstairs, one thing leads to another and…well, you know.
    • Subplot 3: In the midst of the party action, Gail places a camera to watch the party from her van, Tatum gets killed by Ghostface, and Randy relays the rules to surviving a horror movie. One of them is that you can never have sex, which implies that Sidney is in huge trouble for sleeping with Billy.
  • Pinch 2: The jaws of defeat appear and things go very, very wrong. The partygoers flee to see the principal gutted and hung on the football field. Ghostface attacks Billy and chases after Sidney. Ghostface kills Gail Weather’s cameraman and stabs Deputy Dewey in the process. Then Sidney confronts Randy and Stu, who plead innocence. Horrified, she hides in the house. This is when the real killer gets revealed.
    • Character Arc 2: The killer reveals his motives behind killing Sidney’s mother. The killer also plans to pin the blame on Sidney’s father.
  • Plot Turn 2: Taking advantage of a moment of distraction, Sidney gets her and her father to safety and hides, taking the Ghostface mask and voice disguiser with her. She turns the tables on the killer and starts fighting for her life.
  • Resolution: Billy gets shot in the chest and is supposedly dead. However, Randy points out that in horror movies, the killer comes back to life for one last scare. But before Billy gets his second win, Sidney shoots him in the face.

I hope this outline helps you in creating your story.