Currently reading: Carrie

Although Stephen King’s first published novel, Carrie, is about telekinetic forces, I reading it as inspiration for a novel I’m writing about spirit possession. You know, trying to learn from spooky uncle Stephen about the ways of horror.

Much of the novel is written in an epistolary format. Using fictional textbooks and interviews to help the storytelling. Few books are able to employ this technique successfully. It’s not a style I enjoy reading, I understand the appeal as a device. As it used in this book, it reveals too much of the ending. By the end of the first act, the reader knows how many people survive “Prom Night.”

Carrie is a pitiable character. Through the abuse at home and school, King creates a character that we care about. We are given a clear enemy in Sue Snell and Chris. We hate them as we hate our own bullies and mean girls from our past.

I’m not here to bash on the book or tell you that it isn’t one of the classics of the Horror genre, I’m discussing the lessons I’ve learned only halfway through.

King is a master of his craft and much can be learned from his strengths as well as his weaknesses.

While my first novel, White Hell, was solidly a thriller, I have always been a voracious reader of King and Koontz since sixth grade. There’s always more to learn. A new lesson in each reading: how they foreshadow or build an antagonist.

Currently Reading

I’m generally not a fan of writing books. There’s a whole industry devoted to aiding writers and scores of books about every minuscule aspect of writing. Most of them are nothing more than common sense packaged and marketed as a secret or revolutionary new method. Shenanigans.

I, however, have found this book to be very helpful in creating or clarifying character motivation and development. In my NaNoWriMo novel, I was struggling with one of my characters. Linus was flat and stereotypical. I really needed him to be something special to help carry the story forward. This book helped me find his motivation and make him whole.

The author’s also offer other “Thesaurus” books for emotions, negative or positive traits, urban or rural settings. I own most of them on Kindle, but cannot yet speak to their efficacy. What I really needed for the last book was a weather thesaurus to help describe the climate changes since I used weather much like a character rather than a function of setting. Maybe that’s the book I’ll write to enter the “train the writer” marketplace.