Four by Midnight is a collection of four stories in that awkward range—too short to be novels but too long to be short stories.
I have a general rule about reading stories or books that I've already seen the movie derivation. I don't. But this time I did. The first of the four stories is "The Langoliers." I'd seen the three-hour miniseries. I must admit that it helped to enjoy the story because I "knew" what the characters looked like from having seen them. And, what a surprise, the movie followed the story about as exactly as one could expect.
The second story, which I just finished, "Secret Window, Secret Garden," I found kind of annoying. It is a story told in limited third person about an author. King seems to like writing stories about authors. He has three that I know of—this one, plus two full-length novels, The Dark Half and Bag of Bones. If he's written more, I haven't seen (or read) them. Both of those have been made into movies.
On the writing front, I am experiencing a bit of writer's block on the fantasy novel. I know where I'm going, I just don't know how to get there. I'm also having to learn how to write a series. This is a first for me. Every time I want to abbreviate an explanation or a flashback, I remind myself that I don't need to abbreviate! In fact, extending those flashbacks is a requirement. Detail the settings! Detail the characters! But don't use too many exclamation points!
So I was writing a scene and I realized it would be a perfect place for the first flashback, to introduce one character and expand the history of the two main protagonists. So I wrote backward.
Flashbacks are a great way—perhaps the best way—to introduce facts about the characters that will be significant in the future. I used several of these in Witchery. I presented anecdotes from Teyla's childhood and her teen years—two of each if I recall correctly, plus two more of lesser detail regarding events from before Teyla was born. Starting the story at the beginning of Teyla's life and proceeding in chronological order, even if only hitting the high points, would be dull. Most readers would never get to the good parts. They'd be bored long before the action—which takes place when Teyla is nineteen or twenty—ever comes. No, a story needs to start with a sentence or two that will grab the readers' interest.
I used fewer flashbacks in Prophecy of Honor, but still there to explain what has gone on in Collin's life that has formed the man he has become.
Both Just Lucky books have an entire chapter that describes the significant trauma the character suffers that makes him and her the people they become.
Inexperienced writers often do not realize this necessity. I was an inexperienced writer...or perhaps I still am...so I know. New writers tend to tell a story linearly. They want to write it the way it will be read. Front to back, beginning to end, the way you'd have to tell it if you were offering it as an oral presentation.
But when creating the story, an author must often go back to add details, subtract details, or change them. As the story goes forward it may be convenient or necessary to change something previously established about a character or setting or even a plot point. So do it. That may be the very best thing about a word processor program. It makes it easy to do that. My very first novel, written in the late 70's, was horrible. There were many reasons for that, but one was that I wrote it with a typewriter and did not have the patience or experience to go back and change things, rearrange things, add here and subtract there that was necessary.
That wouldn't have saved the novel anyway. There were many other flaws, caused mostly by immaturity as a writer. I like to think that I've worked past that particular flaw, anyway. I still have many others to try to conquer.
Football is back. Let us celebrate, but please don't let your interest and viewing of football interfere with your reading or writing.
Thank you for your attention.