Monday, August 24, 2015

Stephen King--The Errors

While I'm not a fan of pointing out errors in books, it's my guess that Stephen King (who once referred to himself as the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries) will find the humor in this website.

Errors in Stephen's work: Click on any book to see what he and the editors missed.

That these issues aren't immediately obvious is a testament to what a great storyteller he is. It's easy to get lost in King's world and not notice the inconsistencies unless you're looking for them.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Famous Writers/Creepy Facts 2

Morgan Robertson, finger on the pulse of a future world?

In 1898 Robertson pens a novella originally titled Futility. In the novella a state-of-the-art ocean liner called Titan, while on route to New York, collides with an iceberg on a calm night in April. Most of the passengers parish for lack of lifeboats and because there are no other ships in the vicinity to offer a timely rescue.

A short time later the same author writes Beyond the Spectrum, a book depicting a future war between Japan and the United States. Robertson describes Japanese air crafts that carry sun bombs. In Beyond the Spectrum Japan declares war on the United States in the month of December by (you guessed it) a sneak attack on Hawaii.

Robertson also wrote Three Laws and the Golden Rule, a novella about shipwrecked children who grow up together on an island and fall in love. It is believed that his writing had a tremendous influence on Edgar Rice Burroughs.

In addition, in Robertson's book The Submarine Destroyer he describes a periscope. At the time of the writing the instrument had not been invented yet, but was later patented by another who, scholars believe, simply read Robertson's book and copied his descriptions to the letter.

Morgan Robertson died of an overdose at the age of 53.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Make the Setting a Character

When novel setting is treated as character, your protagonist and antagonist come alive as the reader visualizes these fictitious people living their lives against a unique and exclusive backdrop.

Stephen King successfully created Derry, Maine. The novel It—who can forget Bill Denbrough riding his bike at break-neck speed through the intersections of Jackson and Wixom Streets in Derry? Remember Neibolt Street and the bum? And what about the landmarks that make up the fictitious Derry? The Barrens. The Paul Bunyan Statue? King not only builds this town, but he refers back to the streets and landmarks often to keep the reader cemented in his landscape. Not dwelling, but simply reminding us that the kids aren’t merely turning a corner. Rather, they are turning onto Wixom. He does this again in Salem’s Lot, creating a town that is drawn just so. The dump. The boarding house. The Marsten house.  And who can forget Castle Rock?

In Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, the plantation Tara is a character and, at times, the focal point of the novel. The goal of Scarlett O’Hara, after all, is to save the plantation following the American Civil War. Tara is nothing if not a microcosm for the greater South—Atlanta in particular.

Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, the town depicted in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, paints the picture of small-town America at the turn of the last century. The setting is memorable because it represents every town and, like King’s towns, we see our own lives paralleled.

Some fictitious worlds are elaborate—Lord of the Rings comes to mind—but memorable for that very reason—memorable and exact, allowing the reader to enter the story with a sense of place or the feeling that this lie is true.

This doesn’t mean you can’t cast your characters inside a city that already exists, but know the city. At the very least know the streets of Detroit or the avenues of New York if you plan to use these settings. 

The easiest way to make your setting a character is to know your geography. Visualize the locale and refer back to the streets and landmarks throughout.  There’s no point in having characters that pop if the landscape falls flat. And remember landscape lends to character...