I’m a King fan. I know, another one. We’re like Starbucks in Seattle: you can hardly chuck a rock without hitting one of us. You can draw many parallels between his life and mine, minus the self-publishing trend, eBooks and my work as an editor. I hope in the end, my career goes better than his.
Better? Come on! That’s ambitious isn’t it? Of course. I recently made my way pretty deep into Doctor Sleep, and realized something (again) about King: he needs an editor.
“Wait,” you say. “He’s a big name author published by Simon and Schuster. How can he need an editor?” Honestly, for the same reason I do, and all authors do. I recently went through a re-edit of my second novel Temptation and have been editing another rather long paranormal romance (more on this another day) and guess what? King has the same issues every writer does.
Sentence structure. Some of his sentences are just too long. Not something Joe Average reader might notice, but something I picked up on right away, mostly because I do it too. Some of his transitions are poor: he puts conjunctions at the beginning of sentences and ends them with prepositions. All these are common errors in early drafts. Stephen is not a super-writer. He is just a writer.
Wordiness. Anyone who read The Stand and then later read the unabridged version can tell you that Stephen King is wordy. Don’t get me wrong, he tells a great story and his ability to hold reader attention for 900 pages is remarkable to say the least. My favorite works of his are shorter though: Eyes of the Dragon, The Gunslinger Series, and the novellas of Different Seasons. Those novellas are the sources of the films Stand by Me, The Green Mile, and Shawshank Redemption. In my opinion it is some of his best writing.
Fails to follow his own advice. Okay, guilty again. I tell you kill your darlings, not use cliché, blah, blah, blah. I stole the advice from King in On Writing and from other writing instructors who tell you the same things. Then I turn around and break the rules myself. Example: “Never open a book with the weather.” Rule broken: An entire story in Broken Bones is based on the weather.
Stephen King is a victim of his own success. An editor sees his name on the title page and thinks ‘it can’t be that bad.’ Maybe they second guess their editorial ideas and leave faults they would otherwise correct. Maybe he is not as open to suggestion as he once was, but I hope this is not the case.
I am most of the way through Doctor Sleep now. I love the book and the story. This is not a negative review, I’m only pointing out things I see.
So do I want a Stephen King like career? Only if I will continue to face tough editors who force me to make hard calls, am humble enough to accept their correction, and only offer my best to you, the readers.
Hire me Stephen King. I won’t overlook your errors, I’ll edit the hell out of your work, and in the end the Constant Reader you speak of will only benefit.
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