This week for Short Tuesday I took a look at Gary McMahon’s “Strange Scenes from an Unfinished Film,” courtesy of Nightmare Magazine. You can read the short story for free here…
I came into this story hopeful that it would be similar to The Ring, one of my most beloved horror films. Yet this story was overall clunky to me, in the writing style, characterization, and story. Coming in just over 3000 words, it rockets along to a very predictable conclusion; the pacing combined with the MC’s lack of disbelief at what is happening to him really had me wanting the author to stretch things out a bit and allow the action of the piece a bit more time to unfold at a gentler pace.
There’s also a matter-of-fact, tell don’t show quality about the piece that almost reminded me of work in translation. (I’ve done no formal research to back this up, but my experience with translated work is that English-speaking authors place much more emphasis on sensory, non-telling details. Different strokes for different folks?) There were a good amount of times when we slid into infodumping that could have been expanded into actual scenes.
He was a strange and often dangerous man, but for some reason our relationship had lasted a number of years.
Like, why is he dangerous? Can we get an example here? The author is more forthcoming later, but there’s no reason to keep us hanging.
So unfortunately this was a rushed, jumbled mess to me, with a plot that begged for refining and more subtlety.
A small aside—if you haven’t seen the book trailer for Specter yet, check it out! Specter debuts July 7th (less than ONE WEEK OMG!) and the paperback and ebook are available for preorder at all major retailers and from Hidden Bower Press.