August 7, 2019
An inside look of Bayou Terror by Leslie Sussman. Showcasing his style of writing with examples, excerpts and analysis
We will be examining page 51-52. I have included excerpts below, taken from the novel. Leslie’s style is similar to other authors that use short bursts of descriptors to explain things in normal conversational style. Where he differs is that he does not do traditional Chapters. One of the things that I have learned about writing is that despite the fact that in English class we are told there is this firm method of writing, this is not exactly true. You do not have to have actual chapters when writing.
In showing what I mean about quick bursts that are descriptive and meaningful, I offer this excerpt from Bayou to showcase what I am referring to.
“His arm shaking, Clampton pressed his revolver against the thing, angled it so that he would not shoot himself and then pulled the trigger. It splattered into hundreds of pieces, showering blood into his eyes and momentarily blinding him. Clampton yanked the head from his leg and saw that the mouth part still worked. He tossed it away disgustedly.”
His description of death from gunshot is highly descriptive without going into overly gorey detail. The information is enough for you to put into your mind a detailed image of what he is saying. This style of not giving the reader extesnsive descriptors is a way to allow the readers imagination to fill in the gaps. It important in writing to not give too many details, this allows our minds to take part in the novel.
Showcasing the non traditional chapter break.
It seemed like hours, though only minutes later he stumbled upon his car. The thing was beginning to revive itself and he locked it in his ammo box. He turned on the ignition and became dimly aware that the bayou was still eerily quiet. It could only mean one thing, he thought. The monsters had found new prey.
It was the geek who first noticed that the “Frog Boy” was gone. At first, they thought that Clem had returned to his trailer. But when they got there, it was empty. It was too late for him to be anywhere else on the lot. The cookhouse was closed, and Clem wasn’t likely to hop into town for a drink.
“I think I know where he’s at,” Johnson said.
“Where?” the midget asked.
Johnson didn’t immediately answer. “That crazy son of a bitch” he said more to himself than to anyone else. “That damn freak thinks he can handle it alone.”
“What the heck you talkin’ about?” Marsha asked.
“Bout Clem. He’s gone out after ‘em.”
“After who?” the midget asked, still confused.
Using non traditional chapter breaks allows a bit more freedom in style and formatinng because you don’t have to make a consistent break in the story or break on the page, it runs like a continuous narrative but allows the reader to take shorter breaks and yet keeps them engaged in the novels rhythm.
Lesley Sussman is an award-winning journalist who lives and works in New York City. He is the author of more than 20 non-fiction books and three novels.