Level III - Second Place - Daniel Menzel, Home Schooler, Des
Four Past Midnight" by Stephen King
Mr. Stephen King,
A bump in the
night. Fog swirling around gravestones.
Shadows lurking around corners. These are only some of
the many scenarios of the horror genre, one that you, Mr. King,
have perfected. Some call you the master of horror, and
I readily agree. I was at first scared to even pick up
one of your books due to the reputation they have. Yet
I eventually summed up enough courage to walk into the dark
tunnels of Four Past Midnight.
I myself am an aspiring
writer and would love to be equal to your stature
someday. I'm sure you get a heaping pile of letters
saying the exact same thing, but I decided to take it one step
further. Instead of simply reading your book for
enjoyment, I decided to study your works. "Study"
almost seems like a dirty word, especially in the summer when
school is not in session, but study I did. I wanted to
learn what exactly makes people afraid. I wanted to learn
how to craft invisible hands that slowly pull the reader's nose
into a book. I wanted to learn how a bunch of pages and a
paper back cover can scare the living daylights out of a reader
and make them afraid to touch the pile of paper sitting before
I wanted to learn how
you write stories so that I can improve my own writing.
I'm not plagiarizing your work, though. I have too much
respect for you to do that. What I want to do is learn
from the master and hopefully become a master myself.
Besides, the last thing I want is to end up like Mort
Rainy. I don't want to open the door to my house and
see you standing there in a black top hat saying, You
stole my story....
What I'm simply trying
to achieve is to write a story that will send chills and thrills
tingling down the reader's spine. I hope to accomplish
this by observing how you spin a tale and how you frighten people
through ink on a page.
I've learned from you to
build suspense before having something jump in front of a
reader's eyes. I've learned from you to create
characters that people know and love and to create a bond with
the reader and the character. I've learned from you to
give perfectly normal and non-scary characters specific traits
and idiosyncracies that will end up with a reader shaken for
As I sit at my computer
typing out stories on my keyboard, I'll think of how Four Past
Midnight scared me, how it made me recoil further into my couch
yet drew me deeper into your book, and how the images you created
of your wonderful characters will stick with me always.
And at night time, I'll
think about why I'm so afraid to turn off the light.
Sleeping with one eye