Taking Lessons from the Master
Does he look like “America’s Best Selling Novelist” to you? Or does he look more like…I dunno…your grandfather? LOL I’ll tell ya one thing, he looks a hell of a lot like MY grandfather (and my dad) and that’s no lie!
Mr. Big Time Horror Novelist wasn’t always STEPHEN KING. We were all young once.
It was 1979 and I was at a yard sale with a dime in my hand. I was just shy of 13 years-old.
My shiny dime bought me this (mine is in WAY BETTER shape!)
It is my most prized possession and I shall NEVER part with it. This is the only thing you really will have to ‘pry out of my cold dead hands’!
When I first met The Master he looked a lot like this
I don’t know about you but, to a 14 year-old, that is one scary dude! I didn’t see a picture of my all-time favorite author until I was three books into him. His picture explained a lot to me when I turned over “The Dead Zone” and got my first gander of the guy I couldn’t get enough of. My very first thought was; Yep, he’s freakin’ crazy all right. No wonder he tells such great tales!
“Danse Macabre” is my bible. The thing is so worn, it isn’t funny. The binding’s busted, I’ve scribbled notes all over the pages, and highlighted many many many passages of interest and usefulness. I think it should be the FIRST book that anyone who aspires to be a “horror” writer should read. It’s totally fascinating. “On Writing” is also good but not AS good so start with DM.
I’m the first one to get down on my knees at the Altar of the Master Stephen King and grovel the words; “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy”. It’s true, I’m not, but I try anyway. The guy’s never done me wrong, well, ya know, unless you count stealing my house!
Bastard! How rude, huh???🙂
Been working with “Obsession” and not happy with the chapter The Death of Mary Sue. Two quotes have been goin’ through my head like mad the last few days. They just won’t shut up.
““The 3 types of terror: The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs, it’s when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm. The Horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around, it’s when the lights go out and something with claws grabs you by the arm. And the last and worse one: Terror, when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It’s when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there’s nothing there…”
My personal all-time favorite:
“I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud.”
I love him and that last line, that’s a Yankee, baby. One of my kind. Really, if I could, I’d take him home, put him under a glass dome, (hahaha) and put him on a high shelf where everyone could see but never touch. Yeah, I’d feed him too, don’t worry. I solemnly swear that I will; “Love him and pet him, (maybe) I will call him George”
I was feeling a little down yesterday, took a bath, and the first quote kept goin’ over and over in my head like a broken record while “My Sweet Lord” played on the radio. I finally realized that I am unhappy with that chapter and that’s why I’m currently stuck.
I immediately went for the gross-out and that should be the last resort and not the first.
So, while watching my least favorite King movie and book “Pet Semetary”, the Master and I had a little chat. We agreed that book was ALL about ‘the gross out’. The whole thing. Beginning to end. With smatterings of horror in between vomit inducing scenes. We agreed that “Obsession” is a tough read, it’s supposed to be that’s its job. We’re not goin’ for any ‘romance fans’ on this one. We’re goin’ for horror fans…period. If my regular readers don’t like it or don’t understand it or totally pan it, that’s on them. Our job here is just to do the best job we can do with the materials given to us.
So we’re gonna try again today. Gonna rip the whole thing down, tear it apart, and see if we can’t go more terror than the gross-out. See if we can’t give readers the creepy sensation of cold fingertips running up and down their spines. We are also saving this scene for something else. It’s dirty, it’s nasty, it’s disgusting, and I can’t wait to put it into an ‘Ebony Clarke’ story. It IS something I’ve wanted to do for a long time it just may not belong here, that’s all.
We can get that sensation of spine-tingling terror if we just soften this scene. Less gross. More getting into Eddie’s head (which I don’t like but think I have a found a way to accomplish). Yes, poor Mary Sue will still die and it’ll be a nasty brutal death but maybe not so stomach churning. More heart-stopping.
Then we can rocket through to the end. No promises on the ending though. None at all. Will Kevin and Helen live happily ever after or will Eddie get everything he wants? It’s still in the air. That’s probably where it should be. It’s no fun if the author knows ‘whodunit’ from the start or how it will all turn out. Better for me and for you, my dear reader, if I find along the way just like you have to do.
That’s one more lesson from my Buddy.
He’s full of great advice.
Now if I could just get him to give back that house………