Analyzing Writing II

I don’t know if I like the title of this series, but I’ll deal with it for now.  I’m wondering about these things, let me know if any of them stick out to you.

  • Reading like a Writer
  • The Writer Reads
  • The Reading Writer

I’m kinda partial to The Reading Writer, but that might be confusing.  But I’m going to stop wasting words on this because it isn’t something I have to decide for right now.

I am going to be using roman numerals because I feel like I don’t actually know anything after the Xs Vs and Is…I mean, what does L mean?  I don’t even know.

So, today’s Analyzing Writing is…drumroll please…I said drumroll…now, don’t make me go over there and make you drumroll…if you started drumrolling when I said it the first time, I do apologize.

But anyways, the book I will be analyzing today is:

CARRIE by Stephen King

Image description: In the middle of the image, there is a colored drawing of the left half of the face of a Caucasian woman with green eyes looking straight out, the right half of her face is cloaked in shadow looking to the right (a profile), the two faces have billowy hair that flies off to the left off the image.  The faces are outlined in a pale blue light.  The rest of the image is black.  The text at the top reads “SIGNET – 451-AE5744 – (CANADA $6.95) – U.S. $5.95” followed by a slash symbol.   Underneath that are white letters surrounded by a red circular rectangle reading, “4 Million copy bestseller!”  The rest of the text reads, “Carrie Stephen King Author of The Dark Half – A Novel of a girl possessed of a terrifying power  –  Dark Chest of Wonders.”


Carrie tells the story of Carrie, a picked-on 17-year-old girl who discovers she has telekinesis and telepathy.  And disaster follows.

The story was definitely cool, but the way that it was told was even better.  King constantly switches between the main narrative that culminates in disaster and an epistolary narrative.  In the first few pages of this book, he introduces that something huge is going to happen at some point in this book in the form of a book that was written about the “White Commission,” which we don’t find out until the end of the book what that is (the commission that was created to find out what actually happened and who was to blame).

Throughout, these epistolary narratives give us a better understanding of the whole situation as well as the consequences in the future.  There are books written about telekinesis that are scientific or memoir-ish.  One part was a newspaper interview with a neighbor of Carrie’s who gives us a glimpse into Carrie’s childhood from an outside perspective.

What I found most interesting is that as the moment of the disaster comes closer, you can tell something is coming because it starts shifting constantly between the main narrative and the future articles, books, and commissions over the incident that is about to happen.

This sort of fits with the Gunslinger post I wrote yesterday in that it’s rapid succession to build tension.  In the beginning, something bad is hinted at, as the book continues, it becomes more explicit and once you know how bad the disaster is, you are going headfirst into distruction!


King uses a parallel narrative to tell this story juxtaposing the present (events leading to the disaster) and the future (the consequences of the disaster), thereby increasing the tension.  Near the end of the book, as the disaster draws closer, these two narratives start to shift rapidly, heightening the tension to a near-fever pitch.

How can I use this?

So, I wrote an epistolary novella a few years ago that I feel could benefit from a similar narrative strategy.  It told the story of a young man who is the sole survivor of a disaster that destroyed two cities and how the world began to turn on him.

I can tell the story linearly in one epistolary form (his journal), while introducing the consequences of what is about to happen.  Yeah, that’s all I’ve got for this one.  Thoughts?


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