Reading Stephen King & Writing Horror Shovels

by | Jul 6, 2018 | Blog, Craft (Writing Tips), Reading

Hi friends! Happy Thursday. I hope you had a really wonderful holiday mid-week and are finding yourselves back in the full swing of things. The last few days, since celebrating my birthday, my anniversary, and the 4th of July, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and a far bit more writing than I was prior to my birthday, due (admittedly) to the beautiful gift of my new notebook from a friend. It’s been like a really good book that I can’t put down; I want to keep adding to it and watching it grow.

On the reading front, I’ve been really wrapped up in the horror genre lately, as I mentioned in my last full post. Horror has always been a very comfortable reading space for me, and invites more inspiration for writing poems than any other genre. I ended up selecting Stephen King’s latest, The Outsider, which is meant to be a crime fiction novel but interweaves the horror genre in the way that only King can write it. (I just found out tonight, though, that King wrote the Bill Hodges trilogy, which opens with Mr. Mercedes, and focuses on one of the supporting characters of The Outsider. If you want to avoid reading the spoilers that I inevitably read, read the trilogy first. Otherwise, jump right in; it’s an incredible work, I think.)

Where this leaves me, well, it leaves me writing a LOT of poems and tackling the golden shovel form—or, as I like to call them, horror shovels—as I promised I would when I finished the book. As I read The Outsider, I kept writing down lines and passages that I loved (in that new notebook that I also love), and tonight I plan to tackle a few of those passages, and probably share them with you in the coming days. The general rule of thumb for the golden shovel is to write a sentence vertically from an original work, including only one word at the end of each line on your page… and then you fill in the rest, ending each of your lines with some word from that sentence (you just can’t omit any words, or place them in a new order). I’ll be writing poems with creepy line endings, so we’ll see how that flavors the full poem. I’ll share something in the coming days.

I hope you are having a wonderful week, all. Thanks for being here and sharing this reading and writing time with me. Now, I’m going to toil with the question of what to read first: the Bill Hodges trilogy, or four other books that I had lined up to read after The Outsider… and then jump into writing those poems.

In case you’re interested, here is my review of The Outsider as it appears on Goodreads:

The OutsiderThe Outsider by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is going to be one of those books that I want to talk about, with anyone that I can, for a long time: the plot development, the characters, the twists.

I would love to tell you right now about my favorite characters and how they surprised me. How the plot held me, mortified me, saved itself right up to the end. The questions I had that were answered, the subtleties that weren’t. But those would become spoilers, and I rather you have the opportunity to enjoy this book for yourself.

What I can tell you is that this book opens as the sort of crime fiction novel that it promises to be, and steadily, creepily, inevitably evolves into the horror fiction that I’ve come to expect from Stephen King. What comes of the characters, their actions, and the ending, are far more of the horror genre than that of crime or suspense, but these two genres intertwine wonderfully, and left me feeling satisfied at the end, where I’m often left with questions and wanting more.

I highly recommend this one. I tend to recommend everything that King writes, he’s high on my author list, but this is one of my favorites.

If you read it, I’d love to hear what you thought of it. And if you’re a fellow King fan, I’d love to hear which other of King’s books this most makes you think of. Because the connections I’m reading into this book and that other, more than anything else, will be what gives me the Stephen King nightmares and chills.

View all my reviews