piece by piece

The first thing I ever read by Stephen King was The Green Mile. I had read in a magazine that he was going to publish a novel in six monthly installments, and I was ready. Each month, I was at the bookstore the day the new part came out.

In the introduction to the first volume, he mentioned seeing his mother reading a mystery. As he was watching, she put her finger to mark her place, and then looked ahead at the ending. He was shocked (already thinking like a writer), and part of the deal with The Green Mile was to make that impossible. When the main character handed a prisoner a shoe, I had to wait a month to find out how that shoe proved the man innocent (one of the things removed from the movie, but don't get me started on that).

I've always liked things that come in episodes (hence all the sections called "Episodes" in the first half of U-town, which is how they were posted on BBSs in the early 1990s -- one episode at a time). I've talked before about how much I liked I Love a Mystery and Dark Shadows (the former was after the fact, of course).

Do you want to know what will happen, the coming event that Jan Sleet knows, and nobody else does? You'll learn when it happens. You can't peek ahead and find out, any more than Marshall can.

But I confess that half of the reason I work as I do, piece by piece, brick by brick, is because I enjoy working that way. Like building a house without plans, hoping it will come out right. There's a certain excitement to that.

On another subject, I've been thinking about Daphne. I think that, at some point, we'll have to learn more about her. Not right now, of course, since she's not even in this part.

For example, is "Daphne" even her name? Carl called her that, but he also called Pete "Eustace," and he referred to starling as "Lady Britomart" and "Sweetie."

I think there's a lot more we need to know about Daphne, along with her rather unconventional (and soon to expand) family.

More of the current chapter, not including Daphne, next week.

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5 Responses to piece by piece

  1. Alexis says:

    I’m not used to reading small installments, but I like the concept. That’s partially why I like reading new series and trilogies (although the idea of liking series is relatively new for me.) I like having to wait until the next book comes out, having to bide my time in between with other books. It builds suspense and I like that I can’t control it— in the sense that I can’t just buy the next book or look ahead, like King’s mom.

    But I don’t look ahead; I hate spoilers with an unreasonable passion. I also tend to avoid reviews or only skim them if I’m planning on picking up a book. I make a point to keep all of my reviews spoiler-free, although it gets more difficult when reviewing subsequent books in a series and the summaries become more and more abstract. But I do let my eyes flutter down the last page of a chapter sometimes, especially when I’m familiar with the writing style and know something’s about to happen because the chapter ends. If the author routinely puts something climatic in the last sentence of the chapters, I glance at it prematurely. It’s not even on purpose. I can’t help it. Sometimes it even makes me angry, and sometimes I put my hand on the page, covering the last paragraph just to prevent my eyes from wandering.

    I have no patience, but I like being forced to be patient. So I guess something like this, and all your fiction posts, too, would be perfect for me.

  2. “I have no patience, but I like being forced to be patient.” That’s pretty much it. If you’d like to read something of mine in installments, I could let you know where I’m posting the chapters of my WIP, my third novel. You could read them along with the nice folks who have volunteered to be readers (your comments would of course be welcome, but that would be up to you).

    It’s up to you, though, since I’m still hoping to get a copy of A Sane Woman to you at some point, and the first chapter of the new novel will be a huge spoiler for ASW (everything I write is basically a series – the first two novels can be read in either order, but the third is a sequel to both).

    As for spoilers, I don’t hate them the way you do, but I have written about them a couple of times.
    In literature:
    In movies:

  3. Alexis says:

    I’d like to be a reader if you ever ask for volunteers in the future, after I read ASW.

  4. That’s great news, since I already know what I’d want you to read. 🙂

    Other than Throwing Stones, the project that’s floating around in my brain right now () is this: I want to make a book (a real book, like ASW) out of some of the mystery stories I just wrote. Not a collection of all of them (which would be too long), but I have an idea of how three or four of the stories (and part of another one) would make a good book-length narrative. When I put that together, I’ll let you know.

    Oh, and I look forward to hearing what you think of ASW.

  5. Pingback: television sucks me in, at least a little (well, it was probably inevitable) » Anthony Lee Collins

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