Mark Terry

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Does Stephen King Worry About The Market?

December 29, 2009
Like I have an answer to that rhetorical question?

Anyway, as y'all know, The Divine Ms. O and I had some discussions about a variety of topics a while back and one of them was hook. And in it I started babbling about one of the two novels I'm currently working on and she, er, kind of accused my hook of being a mere bobber with no hook and no bait.

Among other things, this back-and-froth (yeah, I mistyped forth as froth, changed it to forth, then thought froth seemed like a worthy description, so shoot me), got me to stop dicking around with two novels simultaneously. I decided to just focus on my SF novel in hopes of actually completing it in Q1 2010.

The other thing I spent some time thinking about was if it's always a good idea for writers to take the market into consideration. I made a comment on Lurker Monkey's blog the other day that sometimes we write things for creative and emotional reasons that have nothing to do with the market. I suspect that's one reason why a lot of good writers often end up with manuscripts they can't sell, too, but at some point we also probably need to balance our artistic life with our commercial one, particularly if there's not a lot of money in what we're doing.

So will I go back to Dressed To Kill, the story whose hook Ms. O didn't like? Maybe. Because I like the character and I like the story and despite the weak hook, I still think it's commercial. Alternately, I may need to turn to another Derek Stillwater novel sooner rather than later. And on the third hand (philosophically, I can be an octopus), I've got 40,000 words of a thriller called China Fire written and since that's anywhere from half to a third finished, there's a big part of me that thinks I should bite the bullet and chew through that sucker. I think that one's got a good hook, a great character, terrific plot--its just a difficult book to write and that's probably why it keeps stalling. Also, I think I can see a way to add 10,000-20,000 words (maybe) to it where it is without padding, which may find where I stopped to be a lot closer to the end that I thought it was. In other words, there's a main character who would probably benefit from a number of point of view scenes. And perhaps even another major character's, now that I think of it...

So, back to the title. Does Stephen King Worry About The Market? Uh... I don't know, but I think yes and I think no (yeah, back to the octopus again). Because, boys and girls, the guy's currently got a 1000+ page novel out and what other writer can do that? Even bestselling authors? Few to none, now that Michener and Clavell have gone to the Great Writing Workshop In The Sky. Ms. Rowling is an exception, but is she a working writer any more? Haven't heard any rumors.

At the same time, I suspect Stevie DOES pay attention to the market in that he always delivers a "Stephen King Book."

[And for you newbies that want to argue that you, too, can write a 1500-page manuscript "because King does it" you don't understand that Stephen King does not write horror novels; he writes Stephen King novels and Stephen King novels, sometimes, run over 1000 pages. Unless you plan on writing a Stephen King novel, chances are you're out of luck and out of a place to market your book, a few exceptions notwithstanding.]

Thoughts?

4 Comments:

Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

*picks up two forks and begins banging fists on table*

Chi-nuh Fire
Chi-nuh Fire
Chi-nuh Fire

:-)

12:49 PM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

If Tabitha hadn't fished the first few pages of Carrie out of the waste basket, Stephen King might still be teaching high school English.

I say finish what you start. You might not find the "hook" until page 320, and then you can go back and exploit it in the 2nd draft. The only book that doesn't have a chance is the one that never gets written.

2:50 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Uh, Natasha. You liked the sample I had you read, huh?

3:26 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Jude,
Yeah, I think so, too. At the moment I also think I've got too many manuscripts that are partially finished, which is why it's probably better I only work on one novel at a time.

3:27 PM  

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