Monday, November 14, 2011
The Gratuitous Excess of Stephen King.
He is one of the most successful authors ever, so it’s not surprising that I was interested in the man and his work. I saw I could learn something, or at least be inspired by his example.
My interest in King started around the same time I started a creative writing course at University in the early 1990s. One of my first stories written for the course had horror elements and immediately someone made a Stephen King comparison. I don’t know whether that comment influenced me in any way, but it seemed that most of my story writing from that point took on elements of “dark fantasy”.
I’m now approaching page 90 out of almost 700 pages. It is still a long way to go, but enough to give me an idea of what I like and don’t like about King’s writing. At this stage there is one major issue that in my opinion mars what he writes, and that is his occasional habit of resorting to extreme crudity. In the context of Duma Key it has seemed entirely gratuitous.
I admit that my opinion on this is strongly influenced by my Christian commitment, but that is not the whole of the matter. I understand that the use of expletives can effectively create realistic dialogue and give colour to character. Used in the appropriate context it doesn’t bother me so much.
In Duma Key so far, there have been two instances of excessive crudity. Both were unnecessary and neither added to the story, or the characters. Were they used to serve the story (in my opinion no) or to serve the reputation of King’s ability to shock?
I get the sense that it is the author himself rather than his characters that are the focus of the extreme use of language. As if King is trying to show that he’s still able to shock his reader rather than adding a realistic edge.