Analyzing Writing III

You may notice a pattern of all of the books that I am reviewing right now.  I am doing a Stephen King book marathon this summer where I try to figure out how he writes.  The patterns in each book that mark his own writing style.  I wanted to do it because I’ve heard so many things about his books and I loved reading The Stand and Under the Dome, so I decided to do this.

I am reading all of his books in the order they were published.  After each one (or after a few), I write about it on here.  However, I forgot to do it the last two days (in case you hadn’t noticed).  But I’m back and ready to post a few over the next few days.

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

Results

Salem’s lot tells the story of a young writer who returns to a small town in Maine (because which of King’s stories doesn’t have some connection with Maine?) where people start dying…and then their bodies start disappearing.

Character Shifting

King constantly switches between characters with a third person limited in each.  In other words, only one character’s thoughts is known in a scene.  As this is King’s second book, I can tell that he used this style even early in his career.  He uses this same narrative structure in Under the Dome and The Stand, focusing on the stories of all of the characters.

And just like in his book Carrie, as the action reaches its zenith, he’s constantly switching perspectives because, as characters always do in the horror genre, they split up.  And there are consequences to that, which are definitely felt.

And with each person biting the dust, the character chapters start dwindling from 20 down to 19 down to 15 down to 10 until only 2 are left.

Prologue as Epilogue

Another aspect that stuck out to me was that King uses the prologue to grab the reader’s attention.  The prologue chronologically happens after the events of most of the book.  And I wonder why exactly this is.  Because it doesn’t really have a good payoff for me.  To give a good example of a prologue that has an amazing prologue that pays off is the movie Monsters.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

The movie starts with a military caravan being attacked by some unseen creatures.  The radio says that the VIPs that they were transporting are dead.  And the movie ends with the main characters getting into that same caravan, being labeled “VIPs.”

END SPOILER ALERT

And so, I don’t know if the prologue really did anything to advance the storyline like in the Monsters movie.  But that is a very small deal with this book.

Epilogue

The actual epilogue was very interesting because it tells two stories.  Now, I’m not sure if I had a special edition book or not, so, keep that in mind.  But he ends Salem’s Lot by telling the story of a man who collapses in a bar in the middle of a blizzard who’s family is stuck out there near the town of Jerusalem’s Lot (Salem’s Lot for short).  It doesn’t go very well, needless to say.

Takeaways

I think I would really like to try a character shifting narrative style.  However, my biggest fear is that I would make the writing the same.  I don’t know, I want to do it and I think I will just force myself to do it at some point soon.

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