One of the downsides of being a writer is you oftentimes find yourself so busy writing that you barely have time to read.
I recently decided to rectify that and, in the process, made an interesting discovery.
See, I picked up three books, one I was familiar with, one where the author was somewhat known to me, and the third written by someone in my genre I’d never read. So I ended up with Lasher by Anne Rice, The Stand by Stephen King, and Brother Odd by Dean Koontz.
Here’s where the interesting part comes in.
I’ve read Lasher a few times. The sequel to The Witching Hour (one of my favorite books, if memory serves … it’s been quite a few years since I’ve read it), it’s a fairly strong piece of work. Not a fave, but not bad. I can pick it up, open to a page, and know exactly what preceded it and what’s around the corner.
What I discovered this time, though, is the writing.
Anne Rice writes lyrically. Her sentences are sometimes long, her dialogue tags are either solid and basic or creative and overwrought, and the woman loves her commas, relying on those to give her Writer’s Voice its rhythm instead of full stops.
Compare that to Stephen King. He’s what I call an economical gasbag. His words are carefully chosen and each does its share of the work in the sentence, but he also can have paragraphical prose. It’s written very well, of course, but the words don’t carry the same sense of lush lyricism that Anne Rice’s do. Again, economical. And a gasbag (sometimes).
I say that lovingly. King is king, no matter how you slice and dice it.
Now, on to Koontz.
He’s new to me. Very short sentences, more or less. Full stop, full stop, full stop. There’s an almost truncated rhythm to what he does. And then he’ll throw in a descriptive phrase or sentence … okay, A LOT of descriptive phrases and sentences, albeit brief ones, that kinda throw you. Several times I’ve had to stop and Scooby Doo. Then I’d unravel the mystery, pat myself on the back for being a clever fellow, and get back to reading.
Is Koontz an author I’m enjoying? The jury’s still out. I can appreciate the syncopated, often interrupted way his Writer’s Voice speaks, but it’s taking me a moment to dive deep and lose myself, like I do with Rice and King.
Regardless, I am learning two other things:
1) I still enjoy a great book and need to carve out time in my weekly schedule to read for pleasure and not just for research, and
2) It’s time to get busy on the two books I need to write. Not that I would compare myself with Rice or Koontz or King, but I do find myself rewriting them (sometimes) in my head and then feeling hungry to get back to telling my own stories.
Now that I think about it, besides a great story, that’s one of the gifts great authors give us: inspiration.