How To Draw A Moonlit Sea

Well, for today’s instalment in my “How To Draw” series, I thought that I’d show you how to draw a moonlit sea.

This effect is fairly easy to draw and it can also be used to show sunlight too (although, if you’re drawing reflected sunlight – then keep the space between the two wavy pencil lines [in the second step of this guide] either completely blank or very pale blue).

This image is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

This image is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

Review: “The Returned”/”Les Revenants” (Series One) (TV Show)

Well, since this series ended quite recently, I thought that I’d write a review of it. “The Returned” (originally titled “Les Revenants”) is a French drama/horror series which was shown in the UK on Channel Four over the past eight weeks.

One of the great things about this series was that Channel Four didn’t patronise their viewers by showing a dubbed version of the series. Instead, they showed a subtitled version of the series. To use a French term, this series is “VOST” (Version Originale Sous-Titrée, I think) – and all the better for it! Whilst your opinions may vary, I’m a strong believer in watching international films/TV shows in their original language.

“The Returned” takes place in a small rural town where the dead begin to return to life. The “undead” in this series are all fairly ordinary people who just happen to have returned mysteriously from the grave – so, if you were expecting zombies, then you’re probably going to be disappointed. The series mostly focuses on the effect which this has on the inhabitants of the town as old secrets are revealed and families are both reunited and torn apart. In addition to this, the water level behind the town’s dam is gradually receding and there is a spate of mysterious power cuts too….

This show is very difficult to describe concisely purely on account of the sheer complexity of it. It has a fairly large cast of characters and, in just eight episodes, there are at least as many (if not more) sub-plots, story arcs and plot threads as the average 20-25 episode American TV series/season would probably include.

Yes, “The Returned” isn’t really a show which you can just watch casually and it’s a show which you have to pay close attention to, but it’s very rewarding if you do. I’ve watched every episode once and I’ve probably still missed out on all sorts of subtle clues and elements of the show. In essence, it is basically an eight hour movie which has been split into episodes.

One of the best parts of “The Returned” are the characters – all of them are extremely complex and believeable people and this series could easily take place in any town in any country (but, please don’t remake it!) Most of the drama comes from both the complex array of reactions from the living towards the returned dead and also how the returned dead adjust to being alive again. It’s much more dramatic than it probably sounds, although this is mostly done in a fairly subtle and realistic way.

In essence, this series doesn’t really have a “main character” as such – although if it did, then it would probably be Camille – a fifteen year old girl who died in a coach accident a few years before the events of the show. Her relationship with her family (and her – now slightly older – sister, Lena) is one of the central plot threads of the show.

The other main characters include Simon, a (devastatingly handsome) man who returns from the dead to find that his fiancee (Adèle) has married the town’s police chief (Thomas). Toni, the landlord of “The Lake Pub”, who learns that his brother (Serge) has returned from the dead – which dredges up a lot of family history that he would rather forget. Julie, a nurse who takes in a mysterious and mostly silent young boy who wanders into the town. But, of course, there are quite a few other main characters too….

Visually, this show is absolutely brilliant too. Almost all of the settings are fairly believeable places which will quickly become familiar to you and the series has a very understated and cinematic kind of look to it too. The title credits sequence is wonderfully haunting too and it contains all kinds of interesting subtle things which you might miss if you only watch it once.

Although I haven’t really heard any of their songs before, the background and title music for “The Returned” was written and performed by a Scottish band called Mogwai and it is incredibly atmospheric, ambient, dark and haunting too. Seriously, the music is one of the many things which makes “The Returned” such a compelling and chilling TV series.

Being a series about death, “The Returned” gets fairly depressing in some parts – although there is always enough drama, mystery and intrigue to keep the show compelling and prevent it from becoming unwatchably miserable. Although it is a horror series, “The Returned” doesn’t really start to become seriously disturbing until about halfway through the series – but, if you’re a horror fan, then it is certainly worth the wait. This series certinaly goes in some fairly dark directions…

Series one of “The Returned” leaves a lot of unanswered questions and, thankfully, there will be a second series of it next year (I’m guessing it’ll probably be shown in France first before it’s on TV in the UK) which will hopefully continue the story and answer some of these questions.

All in all, “The Returned” is an intelligent, complex and chilling show which I cannot recommend highly enough. Yes, it might not be for everyone, but if you like horror and drama, then it’s definitely worth watching. If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get at least a five.

Today’s Art (28th July 2013)

Well, I made another three drawings today -although I wasn’t really feeling too artistic earlier, so “Mountain Centre” didn’t turn out that well and the other two drawings look very slightly generic too.

As always, these three drawings are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"A Purple Place" By C. A. Brown

“A Purple Place” By C. A. Brown

"Coin Of The Realm" by C. A. Brown

“Coin Of The Realm” by C. A. Brown

"Mountain Centre" By C. A. Brown

“Mountain Centre” By C. A. Brown

Avoiding Repetitive Sentence Openings In First Person Narration

2013 Artwork Repetition Sketch

One of the problems I’ve noticed when I’m writing “Liminal Rites” is that, especially on days when I’m not feeling too inspired, I can easily end up starting quite a few sentences in a repetitive way (usually with “I” or “It”).

This is annoying for me, as a writer, and it is probably annoying for you too. Strangely, I don’t have this problem with non-fiction articles, but when I got back into writing longer pieces of fiction again, it seems to have re-appeared.

This problem seems to be more of an issue with first-person narration than third person narration, but I thought that I’d list a few of the techniques I’ve used to either prevent it or to at least make it less obvious in case anyone else has the same issue with their fiction.

This is still something I’m working out at the moment, so this list isn’t really a very long or comprehensive list, but I hope that it is useful nonetheless.

1) Come up with a few stock phrases: Yes, this just covers up the problem slightly – but one way to make repetitive sentence openings less obvious is to come up with lots of “stock phrases” for beginning your sentences when you aren’t feeling inspired.

For example, in “Liminal Rites”, I sometimes have a habit of starting sentences with things like “Finally, I….”, “Rosie turned to me and said…”, “I just…”, “She just..” etc…

Whilst coming up with a few stock sentence openings to rely on is still repetitive – if you have a lot of them, then your readers probably aren’t going to notice that much (unless you mention it in a blog article..) or mind too much. Or at least it will be less annoying than just having one or two repetitive ways to open a sentence.

2) Describe things: Start your next paragraph or sentence with a description of something or somewhere. Provided that your description is relevant to the story, keeps the story moving and doesn’t interrupt the flow of the narrative – then adding a well-placed description can be a great way of avoiding repetitive sentence openings.

3) Sometimes it’s ok: If you’re writing a story from a first-person perspective, then you are probably going to use the word “I” a lot anyway. It is part of the format. So, don’t worry if you start a reasonable number of sentences with “I”. But if more than about half (at most) of your sentences start with “I”, then it might be an idea to try something else.

4) Use dialogue: This is a great way to break up some repetitive narration – after all, most people don’t start every sentence in the same way when they are talking.

However, if like me, dialogue isn’t one of your strengths – then this can be a slightly difficult way of getting around repetitive sentence openings. Even so, adding dialogue is still a technique which worth trying.

5) Take a break and chill out: Sometimes using repetitive sentence openings is just a sign that you’re not really feeling that energetic or enthusiastic. If that is the case, then just take a break from your story (either to do something else creative, something relaxing or whatever etc..) until you’re feeling more enthusiastic about it again.

If you’re writing your story on a schedule (eg: if it’s an episodic story), then creating a chapter buffer is an absolutely essential thing to do, so that you can take a break when you aren’t feeling inspired.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

How To Draw An Audio Cassette

Well, I’m still in a slightly retro mood, so I thought that for today’s instalment of my “How To Draw” series, I’d show you how to draw an audio cassette.

Although this guide didn’t turn out quite as well as I hoped it would, it will still hopefully give you a general impression of how to draw an audio cassette.

This image is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

This image is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

New E-Book :) – “Your First Webcomic”

Your First Webcomic Cover

Well, I am very proud to announce that my latest e-book “Your First Webcomic” is available on Smashwords. You can also view a free sample of the first quarter of the book on the Smashwords site too.

“Your First Webcomic” is a collection of seven re-edited articles from this blog about writing and designing webcomics.

Although this guide is text-only (since I’m not sure whether some e-book reading devices can display large images), it will give you a lot of pointers about getting started, quality vs quantity, characters, backgrounds, comedy, B&W vs. Colour art and panel layout.

Oh, if anyone is curious, the comic on the cover is one of my webcomics called “Damania“. Although it wasn’t my first webcomic (and I only add to it occasionally these days), it’s probably my favourite one of my webcomics.

Today’s Art (27th July 2013)

Well, I’m quite proud of today’s drawings, although “Jade Cabin” ended up being less detailed than I originally expected.

Interestingly, “The Censors” was drawn pretty much spontaneously after I suddenly had the perfect idea for a drawing which summed up the conformist mindset behind censorship.

As always, these three drawings are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"The Old Temple" By C. A. Brown

“The Old Temple” By C. A. Brown

"The Censors" By C. A. Brown

“The Censors” By C. A. Brown

"Jade Cabin" By C. A. Brown

“Jade Cabin” By C. A. Brown