May 11, 2015

Reading Outside my Comfort Zone: Stephen King

So… I’m going to start reading It by Stephen King. I’m a bit apprehensive. You see, I had a bad reaction to a story of his growing up. I was about ten or eleven, I think. My friend had a birthday party, and she got a book of King’s short stories, one of which she then proceeded to read to us. I don’t remember the name of the story, but it had some kind of monster in a kid’s closet. Something with claws. I don’t want to use the words “scarred for life,” but I still can’t sleep with the closet door open if I’m home alone. I’ve steered clear of King’s work after that. I’ve read his writing book, but that’s it.

Then I started to write, and It is used as an example in one of my writing books, and I do want to learn from the master, so I decided to go for it.

There it is, on my Kindle. Taunting me.

Okay, here goes. How bad can it be?

Edit 14.5. I'm 6% in now and kind of confused. This book reads like a bunch of short stories that have Pennywise the Clown/It in common. I don't know who the protagonist is yet. Rich appeared in the last chapter, maybe it's him? 

Edit 19.5. I'm at a little over 30 % now, and at 25% I started looking for the first plot point, but nothing so far. It should lock the protagonists in, story-wise. At 25% the kids are building a dam, at 30 % they're at the movies. There have been a fem more attacks by It. At least the story feels like it's coming together now instead of being random snippets of life, and I know that the protagonists are the group of kids and the same kids as adults. So far, not liking the structure of this. Confusing. On the plus side, I'm not too scared yet, actually, kind of bored.

I do like King's transitions, though. There's usually an adult remembering something and it sort of slides into the kid's perspective.

Edit 24.5. I'm at 46% now. It finally feels like the story is gathering steam. At least I can remember the names of the main characters now, and I even care a little bit about what's going to happen to them. 

Edit 27.5. At about 60% now. The adult Losers have new encounters with It. I'd like the plot to kick in soon, please! Not liking the 'interludes.' I get that this has themes of childhood and nice description, but I don't really 'feel' this book. I don't like reading more and more scenes of graphic violence. This is probably the last King book I'm going to try. This just isn't my kind of thing. 

Edit 1.6. 70%. Still not much happening. The kids sat in their clubhouse inhaling smoke until they had visions. WTF?

Edit 7.6. 75% The kids go after It with the silver slugs and drive It back in the sewers. Is this the midpoint?

Edit 10.6. Finally finished! Yeah, this wasn't my cup of tea. The climax was as overly long as the rest of the book, because everyone had to face their version of It. Kind of repetitive.  And the weird sex scene between the kids? I'm not even going to go there.

I'm going to try to fill this out as I go (à la K. M. Weiland's Story Structure Database):

Story structure:  

Inciting event: Georgie is killed by the clown?
First plot point: At 30% I haven't found it yet?? Maybe it's different for the kids and adults? Are the kids locked in after they have their encounters with It? At 46% The adults have a meeting where they decide to go after It?
First pinch point: The adult Losers encounter It?
Midpoint: The kids go after It with the silver slugs and drive It off? 75%
Second pinch point: The encounters with Henry? Henry kills his dad?
Third plot point: Henry and the gang drive the kids in the sewers/ the adults decide to go in the sewers to confront it (somewhere around 85%)
Climax: Adult/kid losers confront it around 90%)
Climactic moment:The death of it for the adults/ the kids defeat it
Resolution:The losers go their separate ways.

I'm not sure that normal story structure applies to this. There is a structure, of a sort: the two plot lines of the child/adult losers mirror each other, maybe even too closely for my taste. I found the scenes  repetitive, and kind of boring. Then the interludes. Jeez. This book is already massive, and at least for me it was a struggle to keep myself interested. (I very rarely leave a book unfinished after I've started.) Then come the interludes. I'm sorry, but why should I care about these? I've already struggled through too many similar It attacks. If this was a really fast-paced page-turner, maybe then the interludes would be nice, but as the book already moves at a leisurely pace, these make it come to a full stop.  

Hey, at least I read something different, even if this didn't exactly blow my mind. And I got over my fear of Stephen King books. If they're mostly like this one, I probably won't be reading any more, though. (And yes, I have read one of his fantasy books, something about a prince being trapped in a tower with a doll-sized sewing machine, but I wasn't crazy about that one, either.)  

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