Saturday was our group’s monthly Sat meeting at Smokey’s house. Good food, good conversation. Eerie brought up Stephen King (I’m finally getting around to reading Under the Dome). One of his comments really struck me.
He said, one of the remarkably great things King can do is to write a novel with 150 characters and yet, he always keeps them straight in the reader’s mind.
As i was continuing to read the massive Under the Dome (hard cover, talk about heavy), it suddenly occurred to me there’s another side to that.
Sure, there might be 150 characters in the novel. Yes, Stephen King reminds me of them just in time to make sure I remember who everyone is.
But in addition, I think one of the great things he does lies in Suspense.
Not every character is important as the handful who’ll determine the ending. Heck, in a King novel, I expect most of ‘em to die eventually.
What King does in his greatness, is by having the few who will be the ‘saviors’ of the story, then adding in clues and hints to OTHER characters.
We, the readers, know this information.
We know those ‘saviors’ need that information.
And yet, it’s the secondary characters who find it out.
As a reader, I’m shouting, “Go tell such-and-such, he needs to know.”
But they don’t listen. These characters don’t realize the importance of the event like readers do.
And that, by Stephen King, is suspense.
I know what the main characters need to know. I know who has that information. But as a reader, I can’t make the right people talk to each other while there’s still time.
And this is why King is one hell of a master of the craft. If even a little rubs off on me while I’m reading, it is a blessing.