Which First Page Is Groovier? King Book vs. Koontz Book

12 07 2011

Today we’re doing books by two big-time authors: Stephen King and Dean Koontz. King’s book is “Full Dark, No Stars.” Koontz’s book is “What the Night Knows.”

King’s book (the first page at least) is in first person. Koontz’s is in third. Tomorrow I will probably compare two books in third person. I’ve noticed that many, if not most, examples of great writing that agents, editors and writing coaches trot out are in first person. My guess as to why is that voice is more evident in first person, as is the reader’s closeness to the narrator. These mostly first-person examples can be frustrating for people who write primarily in third person. For this blog, I aim to give third person its fair shake. And, yeah, comparing a first-person POV vs. a third-person POV for this post might be unfair, but oh well! 🙂

WHICH IS GROOVIER? Stephen King’s first page.

King opens with a punch: a man in 1930 is confessing to murdering his wife. Instant hook in the first paragraph. I love the language, too: “tupping,” “cozened,” “beating down his quite normal objections.” Fits the time period and gives us an idea that this narrator is basically matter of fact and can see other perspectives–but is flawed. (He knew his son was right to object to helping him with the crime but persisted in getting the son to help him.) The second paragraph works, too; I like reading it after the hook and punch of the first paragraph. King lost me for a few seconds at the end of the page when the letter writer talks about where he is now (prison). I don’t want to hear about that yet. I want to read more about the wife killing.

Koontz opens with death, too, and some mystery: why does it not matter where or when these events happened? His first page has some good points, but overall the amount of scene setting prevents me from getting hooked. I don’t care about a procession of beeches or the rain. Give me murders, please.

King’s first page is groovier, but I think both pages could have benefited by staying with the hook more.

Agree? Disagree?  Vote for your page in the poll.

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3 responses

12 07 2011
Melanie Fisher

I prefer the first pages of Koontz’s “What the Night Knows.” The vivid descriptions and the reference to the state hospital and murders have piqued my interest. The comparison of the windshield wipers to the beat of the heart and the rain trickling down the trees, all lead to clear imaginings.

12 07 2011
Doris Riley Short

I actually prefer the first pages of Koontz in this particular example. I haven’t read much of either author as the horror-fantasy genre is not one I care for. But what little I have read of each, I generally preferred King. Usually I prefer third person rather than first as with first the reader alreadys knows one character is going to prevail at least somewhat.

16 07 2011
First Pages: “Maine” and “Summer Rental” « Groovy First Pages

[…] issue I had with “Summer Rental” was too much scene-setting. Like with the Koontz book, we have rain hitting a car windshield. Try to be more different. I do like the fact the […]

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