Tag Archives: Stephen King

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Have you heard it said that it’s all about character? Stories, that is. If your readers don’t care about the characters, then all the plot twists, surprise endings and literary gymnastics in the world won’t amount to a hill of beans, sweetheart.

paul_pipchinI know I’ve loved a book when I can’t bear to say goodbye to the characters. The first time this happened was when I read Charles Dickens’ Dombey and Son. Not his best or best known, but a sentimental favourite because it was my first. Dickens that is. And as I put the book down at the end, I did so slowly. I didn’t want it to be over. I wanted more time with those characters with whom I had fallen in love.

It happened again this morning (at the time of writing) as I put down Stephen King’s It. (Was there ever a more simply named book? Could there be?) Even though the book was over a thousand pages, it wasn’t enough. Mind you, after what those poor characters had been through, they deserved some time off. Still, for a time they had become part of my life and I know I’m going to miss them.

As I start to write more original fiction, that’s what I’m going to shoot for. I know that in genre fiction in particular it seems to be all about the Really Neat Idea, but for me, regardless of the genre, it’s all about character, and I’ll know I’ve done it right when someone tells me they didn’t want to say goodbye.

First Post

The first post! If you noticed the subtitle, “A writer’s ramblings”, then you’ll have gathered that there won’t be a single theme to this blog. I’ll be writing about, well, writing, as well as movies and–am I borrowing from John Scalzi when I say this?–whatever. As a developing writer after all, practice makes perfect.

Which begs the question, is there any writer who is not a developing writer? Consider Stephen King, who’s been writing professionally for decades. Compare the maturity of his recent books to Carrie, for example. He’s come a long way and by now is truly a literary Normal Rockwell, painting spot-on portraits of everyday people going about their lives and getting eaten by monsters. OK, well, monsters aside, the characters in his stories are so real you feel you know them.

Like many other things, writing is a journey, and along the way you learn to sharpen your pencil a little sharper, write prose that’s a little cleaner, and develop characters in a way that seems more believable to your readers. That’s a journey that I’m looking forward to.