Thursday, May 15, 2008

Identifiable Goals

Writers should fear treading unwarily in the creation of their epic. I've recently slogged my way through the smallest of King's Dark Tower installments - The first, the Gunslinger - and I feel absolutely bereft of care for either the Gunslinger or his world.

Where did it all go wrong? King's series has a stalwart following of millions and it's written well - I've seen some choice skill uses that have helped to inform my writing - but its sprawl has a single purpose - to find the Dark Tower... oooh!

It's not clear why, and though the Gunslinger's world has turned to pap and there seems nothing else for him to go back to, I am left wondering what the point is (and let's face it, there's 7 titles in the novel series, and I started out by reading the interesting Gunslinger Born graphic novel - so, I cheated and Wiki'd the whole thing to find out how it turns out - shudder).

It's clear to me that while King has his reasons for putting the Gunslinger on his quest, it doesn't come across to the reader with any emotional weight - "I've just got to go there". It's all kind of Neo from the Matrix going to the Architect's room and realising the loop of things. Sigh! Do readers want that kind of ending? To go back to the beginning?

Oh, sorry, didn't I say Spoiler alert?

Anyhoo, there it is. A wasted journey - I'm sure it has its themes and messages, but where's the resolution, and apart from a very personal mission for the Gunslinger, where is the feeling of world-in-jeopardy, or other people at least (I'm talking again about the first book here). The third main character of the book is off'd without ceremony and plenty of foresight and no one cares - least of all the reader.

That King rewrote portions of the version I'm holding to make it work within his finished series proves the point: he was writing blind.

Needless to say, I didn't hang around to read the first chapter of the next book.

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