Dark Pathways: From A Certain Point of View

Dark Pathways

Horror fans, I have a terrible confession to make. I read Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars books and decided he wasn’t an author for me. The books were good, but I got the sense that Wendig’s writing style didn’t hit the right notes for me to continue with his other stories. So I passed on Wanderers. I passed on The Book of Accidents.

Holy smokes, am I an idiot. I am a giant, foolish idiot who made a horrible mistake.

cover of The Book of AccidentsBecause The Book of Accidents is pure fire. I will even go so far as to say that Wendig’s horror masterpiece is one of the best books I’ve read in years. Years, dear reader.

It’s got magic. It’s got alternate realities. It’s got trauma and shady characters and serial killers and monsters and pure horror (including a favorite moment of mine when a sculpture comes to life and tries killing one of our heroes!). Most importantly, it’s got some amazing writing that masterfully balances three different perspectives.

There’s Nate, the father. Nate has chosen to move his family into the house that once belonged to his abusive dad. As the story progresses, Nate finds himself facing a series of supernatural events that connect him to a long-dead serial killer. There’s Maddie, the mother. Maddie has a secret in her past and a desire to seek answers about the strange occurrences. And then there’s Oliver, the son. Oliver has made a strange new friend whose secrets pose a threat to everyone.

I love so much about this story, especially because I enjoy a good mystery that unravels in a slow burn. But what puts Chuck Wendig in a special place is his ability to juggle three different perspectives. Nate, Maddie, and Oliver all have their own wants and needs … but the threat is everywhere, and this evil runs much deeper than any of our heroes realize.

Did I mention a book of magic? Oh yeah, there’s that, too.

Dark Pathway: Converging Points of View

Chuck Wendig utilizes a form of third person narration known as limited third-person narration. This means that, in each chapter, we only get in the head of one character. Wendig utilizes this well by ensuring that our three heroes are often separated from one another early on, and don’t share all their secrets. We as readers know, which adds to the tension as the threats multiply. This kind of narration works great if you want to write something with mystery to it: let the reader into your hero’s head, but keep everyone else’s inner thoughts a secret. 

You can try this yourself to build your writing skills! Start by creating two characters:

Character 1: A deer hunter. Doesn’t have a license to hunt. In fact, he thinks hunting licenses are garbage and he’s never bumped into another hunter where he hunts, so who cares? He wants to kill a buck. He’s more than okay with hunting even when it’s not in-season.

Character 2: A serial killer. He’s been dumping bodies in the woods for years. He’s back because he’s been worried about the first body he buried. He keeps having nightmares that the body was dug up by an animal.

Put them both in the forest. Have them bump into each other. Tell the story of what happens next only from the perspective of the hunter. Then, start at the beginning again … and this time, tell the story from the perspective of the serial killer!

When you get to the end of both perspectives, look at what you have. Can you slice them up and combine them into one story? Or maybe one perspective worked a lot better? Decide for yourself and you’re well on your way to becoming a great writer.

Ken Brosky is the author of The Beyond, a horror novel available through Timber Ghost Press. His work has been published in Grotesque and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, among others. He’s currently working on a screenplay and a new novel.

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