The book comes in three parts: true vignettes from his life experiences that propelled him to write tales of horror (he insists it's not an autobiography); writing instructions; and a blow-by-blow recount of his run-in with a minivan.
All three parts are well worth the listening, however, as he notes himself, they are virtually stand-alone units with no through line.
One delicious thing about this book is Steve narrates it himself. Like a suspect confessing under a naked, over-bright light bulb, the eagerness -- or lack there of -- concealed in his voice paints emotional undertones to his stories.
The writing instructions section is the lion's share of the book. (Please let me offer this caution: Mr. King has been writing since his was old enough to hold a pen so some of his advise will be strong meat for the beginning writer.) Mr. King taught high school English for years, and so he relaxes, entertains and hammers home a stream of practical points.
He sorts writers into four types: Bad, Good, Very Good (where he classifies himself) and Magically Gifted. He suggests only the Good can move up to the Very Good; the rest are locked-in. Perhaps if you are not at least a Good writer, you're just wasting your time?
Steve says writing is telepathy: the writer thinks a thought, then the reader has the same thought. If so, after listening to this book, you will know Mr. King intimately and will be able to write like he does, more or less.
This book has a lot to recommend it and most folks seem to love it. However I had three complaints. First of all, the hero was too good and said so too often. I got tired of his walking on water to heal the lame.
Second, he was a cold critter. No wife, no girlfriend, no prospects, no exes or history of sexual activity. In fact, the book only mentioned three emotional relationships: the villain loved his son, the murder victim loved his wife who arranged for his murder, and then the wife was killed by her lesbian lover. While I found most of the characters interesting, no one's death would have hurt my feelings.
My third complaint was "too many words." There are about 50 chapters and the book would be improved if there were only 40. Pick the nine slowest chapters, summarize the action in a paragraph and make it the opening of the next chapter. Then replace the last chapter with the phrase, "The End."
What a letdown.
Dean Koontz is a big name in the publishing world so I was expecting high quality storytelling. Instead, the good guys are sickeningly sweet and the bad guy is off the charts nasty with no redeeming qualities to confound Dean's readership. And on top of that, the plot was propped up with magic (a gimmick in most cases and this is no exception).
I forced myself to listen to the whole thing. As a reward for my perseverance I was treated to the worse denouement I'd ever seen. It dragged on for literally decades adding nothing to the original story.
I'm truly baffled. Is this Koontz's regular output that made him a success?
I'll never know because I've scratched him off my approved-authors list.
A young man's college career is spent suffering at the hands of a secret society. After four years he discovers the members and leader of the murderous cult. He calls them bad names and graduates. The end. The other eighteen hours are description and narration.
Okay, I gladly admit the description and narration are very well written; Conroy has a gift for words. And that added to my frustration: I anticipated a more satisfying story.
Books have two parts: What is said (the story and its structure); and How it's said (the words themselves). This work was a powerhouse of the latter but sorely wanted for the former. In the end, highfalutin words without a story are like boats with fancy sails adrift on the sand dunes in a desert.
I just read your “H’wood Animal” script. Fantastic! Perfect! Best script ever!
The whole office loved it. A script reader peened the IT Guy with a bat. I was laughing so hard I could barely give directions to the ambulance.
Here are the changes needed before shooting: No one cares that whatshisname, the protagonist (Scott Brick?) pronounces “home run” wrong; lose that. And the ‘50’s ran too long (they dragged back then too).
You can pad the Rolling Stone gig. Maybe he covered John or Ringo – you can’t overdo The Beatles.
Market Research says the ending doesn’t work: everyone hates this guy. He can’t play Caligula for 40 years, get a sore throat, find God and then ride off into the sunset. Not a chance.
We’re thinking Obitz’s Wilshire goons track him down at a homeless shelter after his second wife’s divorce lawyer takes him for all he’s worth. The goons blow his brains out and steal seven dollars from his wallet. Whadda ya think?
We want to see 100 pages – 110 tops.
Love ya man!
Let’s do Chili’s next time you’re in Modesto. We’ll go over my latest script.
This work upset my world for days. It quietly drew me in at first. I thought 'it has no plot at all' -- an accessory well concealed in amongst the ornate language that had already ensnared me beyond any hope of escape. I found it all irresistibly beguiling.
I was there, in Castle Lancing, England, living a gentry's life of leisure. And 'who's the antagonist' I wondered. But it didn't matter: I was hooked and couldn't stop listening except at gunpoint.
And in the end I was heartbroken that it was all over. I will listen to this one again.
PS: The landscape is littered with antagonists: witting and otherwise.
The story was adequate, but it was told first-person by a freshman in high school. Therefore, it was written at a high school level. Early on I got tired of sentences ending with "I guess", but the author was just getting warmed up.
Also, I kept asking myself why socially sophisticated and sexually active teens would suffer the company of a nerdy, cry baby virgin with psychotic episodes.
I wish I could recommend this book, but alas, such is not the case.
This book is lyrical, almost poetic. It is so pleasurable that this reader is stunned that it is deeply profound as well.
I have a better understanding of ancient and medieval history and philosophy from Swerve than I got in from classes at the University. Stephen made the characters alive and interactive in their political/social environs.
Thanks to this book, I no longer think modernity evolved into our scientific perception of reality. Instead, it's clear to me that we rediscovered it. And quite accidentally.
This is one of those books that you're glad you listened to even if you are well versed in the subject matter already. It covers things like where we get the notes in the modern scale, how speakers work and most stuff in between.
It's not always easy to stick with it; it gets a little dry in spots.
The biggest complaint I have is there's not enough musical examples. He mentions music by Beethoven, Pink Floyd and many others, but doesn't play the passage. Of course he can't due to copyright laws.
I surround myself with music constantly and often I recall John's references so it's well worth the listening.
I've heard about a dozen books on speaking and this work contains the best advice I've ever heard. Mr. Humes draws on his decades of experience of writing speeches for Presidents to cut through the little mechanical details where most books get bogged down and hit the essence of audience reaction.
21 points are probably more than can be memorized. Don't worry about that; you won't use all those points. You'll likely use more than 10 of Humes' secrets depending on the type of speaking required in your engagements. But any 5 points will more than justify the time it takes to wade through the other ones.
Whether you speak to a small team or an arena, don't skip this book.
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