Thursday, March 29, 2012

Writers On Writing: Beth Dolgner

Books that Inspired Me: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury inspired the very first manuscript I began, so much so that the working title was A Nod to Mr. Bradbury. I tried to mimic his writing style as the story formed, but I never got further than a few chapters because I realized that I had to find my own writing style, rather than imitating someone else’s.

And yet, the voice of Ray Bradbury still whispers in my ear as I write my own manuscripts. Of all his works, Something Wicked This Way Comes has been the most inspirational. I have found my voice—my style of writing—but the lessons I learned from Something Wicked This Way Comes are still guiding me.

Above all else, what I admire most about the book and, really, all of Bradbury’s stories, is how he weaves the fantastic with the mundane. It’s so easy for me as a reader to fall into his world, where magic popping up in the middle of Green Town, Illinois, seems perfectly ordinary. I believe that when Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show comes to town, they’re more than just a carnival. The waxwork witch really can wander the town, and the merry-go-round, run in reverse, really can take years off your life.

That seamless blending of the possible and the impossible is something I strive for in my own work. I may not write about dark carnivals, but I do try to make my readers believe in the ghosts, demons and other creatures in my books.

The other thing I love about Something Wicked This Way Comes is the language Bradbury uses to set a scene. He doesn’t need long, detailed descriptions to evoke a vivid image in the reader’s mind. One sentence from Bradbury is equal to a whole paragraph from any other author. A perfect example of this is in the first paragraph of chapter one, when a lightning rod salesman arrives in Green Town just before a storm. Bradbury writes, “Somewhere not so far back, vast lightnings stomped the earth.”

My first reaction to such prose is, “If only I could write like that!” Well, I’m sure I could, if I tried hard enough. But I shouldn’t because that’s Bradbury’s voice, not mine. Instead, I’ll let his storytelling continue to whisper to me as I write my own stories. After all, for me, that is the true magic of Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Beth Dolgner is a writer, editor, and overly-enthusiastic costumer. She is the author of the Betty Boo, Ghost Hunter paranormal romance series and Manifest, a young adult steampunk novel. Beth and her husband live in Atlanta, Georgia, with five cats. Find Beth online at and on Twitter at Get Ghost of a Threat, Book 1 of the Betty Boo, Ghost Hunter Series

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