Lately, the bulk of my blogs have been regarding either the feverish writing sessions behind the Everything Theory books or the impending release of The Bleeding Room (coming later this week…hooray)! While the vast majority of my writing time has ben centered around Everything Theory, most writers know that it’s nearly impossible to stay seated on one project without going crazy. That being said, I started playing around with a story in the background as I gave my mind a break from the twists and turns of Everything Theory.
About a month or so ago, that story took on legs of its own. It now sits right around 9,000 words and is likely going to be a nice quick gut-punch of a novel. It’s based, like much of my work, in the South. In trying to create the family at the story’s core, I unintentionally complicated it. I was trying to make a ghost story more than it actually was. The family was pretentious and the main character was, quite frankly, boring. But I liked where the characters were headed, and I was in love with the tension between them. The family in question is a very strained one: the parents are very recently divorced and the kid is a typical twelve year old, branching out into football for his middle school team, and just beginning to perk up around girls.
It was the distressed parents that I had a hard time getting right. Lucky for me, I was re-reading Cujo at the time. When I first read this in high school, I only wanted to read about the mean nasty dog tearing people apart. I didn’t care about the expertly written scenes about (SPOILERS) the Trenton’s strained marriage or how the wife secretly wanted pity because her unfulfilled life drove her to sleep with another man.
But during the re-read, I was again impressed with how well Stephen King writes normal people in normal situations. The turmoil running rampant though the Trenton house in Cujo is an excellent thread to tighten the already hectic scenes taking place in Joe Camber’s driveway as mean and confused old Cujo holds Donna and Tad hostage.
I used this excellent example as a way to tighten up the family in my untitled work in progress. I have added some spice to the back story and added depth to the characters. Now, already at under 9,000 words, I am already rooting for the wife (as I am still not sure how things will turn out for her in the end). And as for the husband/father? Well, he’s got some issues to deal with. Case in point:
Standing on his porch in the creeping gold hues of dawn, Richard sipped from his cup of coffee, listening…waiting.
He heard something stir from behind him, from the other side of his open screen door. Something in his house had moved—a peculiar occurrence being that he lived alone. But things had been moving by themselves within his house a lot over the past few weeks. There had also been voices and groaning whispers that he couldn’t understand.
He knew who the voices belonged to. And despite not being able to make out any words within their garbled otherworldly voices, he knew what they wanted from him. In fact, he had been awaiting their request for quite some time. He’d known that this day would eventually come and he knew what he had to do. He’d known for quite a while now, actually. But the knowing didn’t make it any easier.
The sun continued its course along the sky, bringing a bright Friday morning with it. He eventually found himself holding an empty coffee cup. Behind him, something crashed from within the house. From the sound of it, the lamp had been thrown from the TV stand.
Richard ignored this; the ghosts or whatever the hell they were didn’t really scare him anymore. It was what they were asking of him that truly frightened him.