Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Advice from Stephen King

I saw this clip of Stephen King a while ago. He talks about a magic moment. When you put down a book and realize "I can do better than this." That moment happened for me over the past few days. (Ok that isn't a moment, but sometimes I'm a little slow on the uptake.) I've been reading, actually listening on my iPhone, to Sly Mongoose by Tobias Buckell. Now I'm not going to go as far as Mr. King and say it sucked. Because it most certainly did not. I enjoyed the overall story quite a bit, and since this is the third in a series I've read, I'm pretty invested in the universe he creates, and the main character, Pepper. But as I listened to the story, I was struck quite often by the writing. It didn't seem as polished as I remembered the past two books. The author repeated words and phrases often. The dialogue and description didn't seem as crisp. And quite frankly the opening scene was the best part of the whole book. (You can read it on his website: ) But the question I asked myself was, could I do any better? I'm not sure if I know the answer, but tonight I was sitting in Starbucks editing Crimson Swarm. And several times, I said, "yeah, this is good stuff." The chapter I was working on (about half way through the story) really flowed well. The dialogue was crisp. The action clear. I don't know, I'm too big of a wuss to say it was better writing than Mr. Buckell, (and what makes it even harder is the man is really a great guy, and we've talked a couple times via email.) But maybe, just maybe I had a Stephen King moment. Whatever it takes to get me to finish this darn novel... I'll take it. (sorry Tobias)

Here's the Stephen King clip:


jeff said...

Hi D.

You don't know me from the man on the moon, but I found your link at FM (I think). I bookmarked your site when I noticed links to authors I really like. Donaldson is one of my favorites.

Anyway, I had the exact 'moment' when I started 'Stone of Tears' by Terry Goodkind (about a year ago). A doorstopper book that said: You can do something like this.

So, I embarked on the journey to write a novel. (ouch!)

You mentioned in your blog about a beta reader. I'd be willing to do that if you'd take a look at mine later on this year. No problem if you don't. Good luck and I'll keep checking your progress from time to time.

Best Regards,

Jeff M.

D. Robert Pease said...

Good to hear from a fellow novelist-wanna-be. I hope you have as much fun writing as I have. I may have enough beta readers lined up already, but I'll let you know if I need another.

You mentioned you may have found me on FM (Forward Motion for Writers) do you belong to a Critique Group? I have one on there that has been invaluable. That would be a great place to start if you haven't already. My goal is to have the novel as polished as possible before I drop it on the beta readers.

jeff said...


I’m part of a group now, but everyone was in different stages of a project, and it sort of petered out. I learned a lot from the experience, but I’m hesitant to join another one because I spent more time critiquing than writing.

I am hunting for someone who’s willing to grasp the story as whole, offer suggestions, comments or even bounce some ideas. I guess sort of like a novel exchange (except I have 92k with 50k to go). You might be way beyond that stage already.

Anyway, this hobby has been a fun, thrilling, yet humbling journey. I have a lot more respect for every author out there.

Good luck and take care.

Jeff M.

D. Robert Pease said...

I experienced the same thing with my Crit Group. I have taken several sabaticals from it (in the midst of one now) because I only have so much time to write. I am through draft one, and am in the process of editing. I'm not sure when I'll be done, but I'll keep you in mind when I am. Stop by the blog every once in a while and say hi.

BTW, how did you come up with 142k as your target word count? Everything I've read says 100k is about the max for first time authors, except for fantasy, then it jumps to 120k. Just a thought, you don't want to immediately turn off agents/publishers by something as simple as word count. Besides I've just saved you 22k words of writing. :-)

witchofbreithla said...

Hmmm. Wonder what's wrong with the other blog? Not being technical, I have no idea. :)

New Orleans is a huge adjustment. I actually lived outside of Fort Worth, Texas, so in the South, but N.O. is still like a totally different planet. I spend a great amount of my time just listening in fascination to the accents of the people around me. It's great. No one says "r"s here! I actually moved with my parents and one of my brothers. I'm too close to them to let them get far away (much less to a place I've always wanted to live).

I'm glad to hear the editing is still going well. I'm done with Witches for the next few months. To be honest, I think I'm a little too close to it right now, and I need to give it some space before I can see either the larger issues or anything else that needs to die. I'd be interested in a swap, whenever you are. I've been wondering what happened to you. :)