Please email any plotlines, reviews, recommendations, favourites, top-10 lists, worst-10 lists, cast-and-crew annotations, banner art, CD artwork, radio scripts, biographies, comments, suggestions, criticisms or questions to me at:

rhurdle at otrplotspot dot com

Please be sure to include a subject—I will not open mail listed as 'No Subject'. In the past, I have had intermittent problems with my email. If I don't respond within a few days, please send me another email because yours was probably lost in the aether.



But first: A Shameless Appeal...

It costs cash, time and countless lives to provide you with free entertainment. Please consider giving something back to help make the sacrifice of so many millions of innocent people worthwhile by sending in reviews of shows (you can remain anonymous, if you like).

Thanks for contributing!


WRITER'S GUIDE

Many people have asked for a guide to writing reviews and plotlines. So, er... here it is.

Reviews

Reviews are easy. Just tell me if you liked an episode or not... and how you wish to be credited (if you prefer, you can remain anonymous or make up a name). That's it. You're done. Thanks for contributing!

A review can be as short as a single word, if you like, but a really good review will also explain why you liked it or didn't. This is a bit harder. The reason this is important is that there are many different elements to story telling: characterization, mood, tempo, style, conflict, dialogue, plot, setting, point of view, tone, acting, music, and sound effects. If you are in the mood for a fast-moving story with a lot of action and I'm in the mood to relax and let an author's descriptive imagery wash over me and paint pictures in my mind, then we might not be ready for the same story.

So, if you can, tell me why you liked it. You don't need to know about all those story-telling elements—you aren't writing a book report for your secondary school English class—you're just telling me why you liked it. To help figure out why you liked it (or didn't) here are some questions you might ask yourself:

Characterization
Were the characters interesting? Would you like to have a beer with them after work? Or did you just want them to go away and leave you alone? Did you feel like they were real people? Or just two-dimensional stereotypes?
Mood
Was it a dark and somber tale? Or an uplifting tale of personal redemption? Was it depressing? Or inspiring? Did it make you laugh? Or cry? Was it light-hearted? Or intense?
Tempo
Was it an engaging, fast-moving story? Or did it take forever to get where it was going? Was it a slow-moving, thoughtful tale full of imagery? Or did it steam along too fast to figure out what was going on?
Style
Did the author's use of language build pictures in your mind that you could see? Or did the author focus on dialogue instead? Did the author use short, simple sentences. Or were the preponderance of circumlocutory adjectives and adverbs and, in fact, entire prepositional phrases, particularly abstruse?
Conflict
What kind of conflict was there? Human vs. Human? Human vs. Nature? Human vs. Animal? Human vs. Alien? Super-Hero vs. Super-Vilian? Creature vs. Creature? Were you rooting for the underdog?
Dialogue
Were the characters witty? Dry and boring? Drunk? When the characters spoke to each other, did the dialogue sound natural? Or stilted and made up? Did they speak in slang? Regional dialects? Another language? Did the aliens have squeaky voices that were hard to understand? Did you need a Babel Fish?
Plot
Was the plot simple and easy to follow? Or was it childish and simplistic? Was it deliciously complex with multiple levels of meaning? Or was it confusing? Was the plot truly original? Or had the story been told a million times before? Was it predictable? Or did it make you shiver in antici.............................pation?
Setting
Was the story set in the far reaches of space? Or right here on Earth? Was it set in the Northwoods? Or in a suburban mall? Inside a star? Or inside your own blood vessels?
Point of View
Were you inside the head of one of the characters, listening only to her thoughts? Or were you omniscient—listening to everyone's thoughts? Could you listen to what every character said and see what they did but never really knew why any of them acted as they did?
Tone
Was the story funny? Serious? Ironic? Irreverent? Sarcastic? Hostile?
Acting
Did the actors sound like real people? Or did they sound like... well, like they were putting on an act? Were they convincing? Or were they stiff and awkward?
Music
Was the music so loud you couldn't hear the dialogue? Or did it help create mood? Did the violin add to the suspense? Did the organ sound ridiculous? Was a kazoo really the right background instrument for a story about axe-murderers?
Sound Effects
Were the sound effects realistic? Or obviously faked? Did they add to the suspense? Or detract from it?

If you are still having trouble figuring out what to write, read some of the other reviews on this site and ask yourself which ones were helpful to you and which weren't. That should help you decide what to include and what to leave out.

May the muse be with you.

Plot Summaries

Plot summaries, on the other hand, are much more difficult to write. Many of the early plot summaries written for this site are short (one sentence) and cryptic. This is great in that they provide the general theme or mood of a story without giving away any plot twists, but I'm finding this presents two problems: proper identification and database searching.

This is especially true with some of the more obscure series. Take Exploring Tomorrow, for example. Almost none of those episodes announce the title in the opening or closing credits. So, if you are trying to identify an episode that you just listened to, how can you tell if it is 'The Happiness Effect', 'Do It and Like It', or 'The Brain Writers' [These titles all exist in the OTR community, but I think they are alternate names for the same episode]. Or how can you tell if it is 'The Cold Equations' or 'The Stowaway'? [many in the OTR community claim these are the same show, but I think they were two different episodes—one of which is lost.]

Well, you would probably identify the episode by comparing the plot of the story you just listened to with the transcribed plot of each of the available titles. But a one-sentence plot just isn't going to cut it.

Think of it this way... compare the following plot summaries:

  1. An elderly accountant wages a war against his past and struggles for personal salvation.
  2. A shop assistant with a handicapped baby inspires his boss to change his ways.
  3. A man is haunted by the spectre of his dead business partner.
  4. Memories of the past and a vision of possible futures encourage a man to make amends before it is too late.

Would you recognize these plot summaries as the same story? What if the name 'Ebeneezer Scrooge' were inserted into each?

And that brings me to the second problem. If you were looking for a story and couldn't remember its title, could you find it by using keywords and searching in a database? Which words would you use for 'A Christmas Carol'? Scrooge, Cratchit, Tiny Tim, Christmas, ghost, Marley, Fred, humbug?

So now when I write new plot summaries, I strive for 2-5 sentences. And I try to include details that someone might search for... without giving away too much of the plot. As I said, it's not easy...