Saturday, March 15, 2008

It's a conspiracy I tell ya . . .

I know Dean Koontz has a twisted sense of humor. If you don't believe me, read his answers to questions 1, 5, & 10.

I'm starting to think Dean Koontz has been playing an even bigger and more elaborate joke on the publishing industry. You see, in some of his recent books, he has been doing things he doesn't normally do.

Exhibit A:

In these examples from The Darkest Evening of the Year, he's putting his dialogue tags before the dialogue. I must say that I found this very distracting. I've checked his older books. He didn't do this then.

She says, "You know what's the worst thing?"
Brian said, "You always carry two thousand bucks?"
He said, "You aren't seriously telling me that Seeing Eye dogs can drive."

Exhibit B:

Look at these dialogue tags from Velocity :

Ned said impatiently, Ned explained, Ned clarified, Ned confirmed, Ned agreed, Ned grumbled, Billy added, Billy judged, Billy assured him, Ned replied, Billy conceded, Steve protested, Lanny objected, Billy suggested, Cottle said anxiously, Billy said plaintively.

and my personal favorite "Science fiction," Jackie emphasized.

Because of his past track record, I'm starting to think there's a method to this madness. Like he's thumbing his nose at the experts who say you shouldn't do these things.

The experts usually say that most writers do the above 'don'ts' due to a lack of confidence in their writing. I have never agreed with this charge. Most new writers do this because that's the example they've seen in the books they've read. They see it in a novel and consider it accepted practice. Not to mention it's a good way to get the word count up.

It would be ridiculous to say that Koontz is doing this because of a lack of confidence. That's almost too absurd to even think about. If it were his standard operating procedure then you could just use the "when you sell a hundred million books then you can do whatever you want too" argument.

Personally, I think he's just having fun.


Mike Duran said...

More evidence, I think, that the "writing rules" are kinda bogus. I'm NOT distracted by Koontz's dialog tags and, after reading McCarthy's The Road, doubt that I'll ever sweat this type of minutiae again. As an editor, I'm looking for story first, form second.

Jerry Pat Bolton said...

Interesting . . . HE can get away with it . . .

Nicole said...

There ya go, boys. My trumpet must be working. Hallelujah.

For those of us who want to write so novels are like "reading a movie", these methods are illustrative and help the reader "see" the actions, thoughts, and deeds. Hail to the Chief! Whoever he is.

Janet Rubin said...

Janet remarked, "Does anyone else actually remember being taught to do this in elementary school? We learned that lots of adjectives and varied speaker attributions made out writing more interesting. We got a nice smily face if we wrote 'Ben lamented,' instead of 'Ben said.'"

After pausing for a moment to think, Janet added, "It certainly hasn't ruined any Koontz books for me. And story is definately first..."

Nicole said...

Right on, Janet. And unless you're a big Hemingway fan, lean writing is sometimes like anorexic.

Mark H. said...

Koontz's answer to the woodchuck question is an instant classic.