Book #10 – Out are the Lights by Richard Laymon
From reading Laymon’s A Writer’s Tale, I remembered that there had been problems with the books he had published through Warner Books after The Cellar. I remembered that one of the books had suffered from a terrible line editor and one had been the victim of a terrible cover. Out are the Lights is the latter. Story goes, from Laymon himself, that he used to tape note cards over the back cover to block out the pithy “teaser” because it gives away the whole book. And it does, though a reader really doesn’t know that until the very end of the book. After having read the back cover I spent most of the book very confused. None of the things mentioned on the back were happening. Basically, I just shrugged it off and read.
Craft-wise (Lesson 5 we’ll call it):
Laymon doesn’t repeat much. He uses shorter sentences during action and tension scenes, but varies sentence length greatly in those cases. For fright, he relies on the horrific action that is occurring. He doesn’t embellish, just lays it out.
All in all, Laymon is sparse with description, something I think you can get away with when writing contemporary, earth-bound novels. One thing I envy about his style is the lack of dialogue tags. He writes damn good diagloue, so snappy, you always know who’s talking.