Stephen King's "On Writing"

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<p>Stephen Kings On Writing A Comprehensive Review and Summary ...</p> <p>http://pacejmiller.wordpress.com/2009/04/07/stephen-kings-on-writing-a...</p> <p>About Writing The Personal Blog of Pace J MillerCreativity is a muscle that needs to be exercised home about me travel hq on writing reviews sport misc</p> <p>Stephen Kings On Writing A Comprehensive Review and Summary7, 2009</p> <p>search</p> <p>April</p> <p>go!</p> <p>Posted by pacejmiller in Book Reviews, On Writing. Tags: Anne Lamott, Aspiring Writer, Bird by Bird, book review, On Writing, publisher, Shawshank Redemption, stephen king, The Elements of Style, Writing trackback</p> <p>April 2009 M T W 1 6 13 20 27 7 14 21 28 Mar 8 15 22 29 T 2 9 16 23 30 May F 3 10 17 24 S 4 11 18 25 S 5 12 19 26</p> <p>PagesAbout Me Fantasy Writing Resources Guide to Creative Writing Travel HQ Europe Travel Diary Hong Kong Pitstop Hunter Valley Indian Journey Taiwan Adventure</p> <p>There are plenty of books on writing out there, mostly by writers you have never heard of and probably never will. Stephen Kings On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is an exception. I had read many rave reviews about this book, so I went and got myself the audio book version for the long train rides on my latest European vacation (but ended up listening to it everywhere I went and finished it in the first</p> <p>1 of 15</p> <p>2/24/2011 11:45 AM</p> <p>Stephen Kings On Writing A Comprehensive Review and Summary ...</p> <p>http://pacejmiller.wordpress.com/2009/04/07/stephen-kings-on-writing-a...</p> <p>couple of days). The verdict? Extraordinary. One of the best books about writing Ive ever come across. 5 out of 5 stars! Nevertheless, what started off as a short post about the book has turned into the full-blown thesis below, so I apologize in advance. The lengthy middle section on Part II though is useful for those who want an idea of what Kings views are in relation to the craft of writing. Overview The book is not a mechanical guide on how to be a better writer from a technical standpoint, though in the middle section King does discuss the fundamentals of the craft. Stylistically, it is similar to Anne Lamotts Bird by Bird, in that it is a very personal book that discusses writing through the authors personal stories, experiences and anecdotes, all told with good grace and humor. You dont just learn about writing techniques in On Writing you also get to learn a great deal about Stephen King, his family, the struggles he has endured, both pre-fame and post-fame, and what makes him tick as a popular horror novelist that has sold hundreds of millions of books worldwide. Bleacher Report Articles There are essentially 3 parts to this book. Part I is all about Kings life, and is autobiographical in a sense. Part II is all about the craft of writing from Kings personal perspective. Part III talks about Kings life after his tragic car accident that almost ended his life and writing career. All 3 parts are equally instructive and compelling. Parts I &amp; III All About Stephen King The book begins like an autobiography on Stephen King, the writer. It starts off from his childhood and goes all the way to that first big success and then on to superstardom. Its filled with lots of little humorous tales about the outrageous things he got up to. After all, it is a memoir. At first, I was concerned where was he leading with this? Is the book called On Writing or On Stephen King? I got the book with the hope of learning more about how to be a better writer, not to learn everything about the author! That being said, King does tell his story with a lot of skill, keeping it interesting, intriguing, funny and inspiring. Then you start to realize that it isnt just a self-indulgent story of Kings life. There is a common theme running through his life, and that theme is writing. He loves to write and he writes for the love of writing. Like most other successful writers, King went through years and years of rejections (starting when he was just a kid). He held ordinary jobs because he had to support himself and his family. He struggled. But he never stopped writing and honing his craft, largely thanks to the encouragement of his wife Tabitha, who happens to also be his most Movie Reviews at 7Tavern</p> <p>My Other Blog</p> <p>Support My Blog!Stumble It!</p> <p>2 of 15</p> <p>2/24/2011 11:45 AM</p> <p>Stephen Kings On Writing A Comprehensive Review and Summary ...</p> <p>http://pacejmiller.wordpress.com/2009/04/07/stephen-kings-on-writing-a...</p> <p>loyal supporter. King tells one of the most inspirational and uplifting stories Ive ever heard how his breakthrough novel Carrie earned him an initial $2,500 for the hardcover rights (not much even for those times), and then how he scored a life-changing $400,000 for the paperback rights (split equally with hardcover publisher) when the most he expected was $60,000 (half of which would be his). Not bad for a guy who would have earned $30,000 over 4 years as a teacher. However, success manifested itself in strange ways, and the next section dealt with Kings fall into alcoholism and drug abuse. Amazingly, some of his most famous novels were written during the darkest phase of his life. Anyway, dont be put off by the long start King does eventually get to the craft of writing in Part II. However, this first part is also very instructive. If nothing, you learn that the path of a writer is a long, difficult, and eternal road. Part III is significantly shorter. It tells of Kings horrific car accident at the hands of a loony driver one that not only nearly ended his writing career but just about killed him. I thought King showed a lot of restraint in this section he doesnt hurl abuse at the driver who turned his life upside down and made even simple tasks such as sitting incredibly painful for him. He merely describes what happened like a good narrator (including the agonizing pain he endured) and leaves it at that. Part II The Craft of Writing The second part is what most people buy the book for Kings guide to the craft of writing. It contains a lot of the same advice you might find in other writing books, but King adds his own personal touch and insight from his years of experience. Heres a summary of some of the most salient points I got out of this section and what I thought of them. Please note that I cannot guarantee that it is an accurate or complete reflection what is actually in the book because they are merely from scribbles I took down when listening to the audio book. Of course, you will get much much more out of it by reading (or listening) to the book, which provides a lot of in-depth discussion and useful examples. This is really just a personal reminder of things I need to look out for in my own writing and a critique of Kings advice.Bookmark this on Delicious</p> <p>Click Here for My Writing/Fantasy/Publishing Bookmarks Categories</p> <p>Archives</p> <p>Blogroll - MiscAlpha Inventions BlogCatalog Inspired Worlds The Personal Blog of Matthew Ho Unreasonable Faith WordPress.com WordPress.org</p> <p>Blogroll - Movie BlogsFilmic Ianthecool\'s Movie Reviews Paul\s Film Adventure Your Unqualified Review</p> <p>Blogroll - Sports BlogsPacers Pulse Swamigp\s Sports Blog The NBA &lt; 100 words The Wages of Wins Journal</p> <p>Blogroll - Writer BlogsBarry Fox\s Blog Becoming A Writer Seriously</p> <p>The Elements of StyleFirst of all, get yourself a copy of Strunk &amp; Whites The Elements of Style. King raves about this book and mentions it more than a couple of times. In his view, all writers should read this short but essential book.</p> <p>C.H. Scarlett\s Blog Eleanor Barton\s Writing Blog Filling Spaces Flights of Fantasy</p> <p>3 of 15</p> <p>2/24/2011 11:45 AM</p> <p>Stephen Kings On Writing A Comprehensive Review and Summary ...</p> <p>http://pacejmiller.wordpress.com/2009/04/07/stephen-kings-on-writing-a...</p> <p>I need to get myself a copy.</p> <p>How to Write a Fantasy Novel J-A Brock A Blog for Beginner Writers K.S. Clay Writer of supernatural suspense lying for a living Rule of Three Second Wind Publishing The Lit Connection The sunlit desk TheNinthDragonKing Thunder and Lightning Vicki Hinze on Writing</p> <p>CharactersKings writing style is based on characters In his view, stories and characters. characters are not really created, but are waiting to be uncovered like archaeological artifacts. He usually starts his novels with just a premise and goes from there, meaning his characters and plot tend to form over the course of the novel rather than get planned out from the beginning. It may be a viable method but I find such an approach to likely lead to dead ends (and I feel King might have the same problem with some of his horror novels, which have a tendency to crash to a crappy finish with unsatisfactory solutions).</p> <p>Good WritingWhen King talks about good writing he is not talking about writing writing, masterpieces or literary award winners. Hes simply talking about writing that is above competent and readable, and perhaps, publishable. In his view, there are two key criteria to good writing writing: (1) a good grasp of the fundamentals; and (2) having the right instruments. These criteria will not make good writers great or bad writers competent, but it can make good writers out of merely competent writers. So what are these fundamentals and tools? See below. I should say in advance that these are things you would expect to find in most other books on writing and shouldnt come as a big surprise.</p> <p>Top PostsIndian Journey Part V: Shopping for Indian Clothes My 2011 Oscar Predictions: Who Should Win and Who Will God umpires Andre Agassi vs Michael Chang R.I.P Corey Haim (sob) How I would have judged the 2011 NBA Dunk Contest</p> <p>Recent PostsMovie Review: I Am Number Four (2011) How I would have judged the 2011</p> <p>AdverbsKing hates adverbs (you know, words that mostly end in -ly). Loathes them. Not that they shouldnt be used at all, but they should only be used when strictly necessary. On the same point, King brings up the issue of using adverbs for dialogue attribution for instance, she said slowly. Again, the rule is to use it only when necessary. If the dialogue itself already tells the way in which it is expressed, then there is no need for the adverb. Kings preference is to just use said. However, that being said, he also admits to using adverbs more often than he should. Personally, I admit I have a tendency to resort to adverbs. Because its easy. It tempts you to use it so you dont have to think of a better word or come up with better dialogue (in the case of dialogue attribution). However, cutting out adverbs is something Ive reserved for the second draft.</p> <p>NBA Dunk Contest Movie Review: Faster (2010) Thoughts on Bieber winning Celeb MVP, Griffin Dunk Comp Movie Review: Unknown (2011)</p> <p>MetaRegister Log in Entries RSS Comments RSS WordPress.com</p> <p>Blog Stats617,717 hits</p> <p>Passive VoiceAnother thing King frowns upon is using passive voice For example, voice.</p> <p>Search</p> <p>4 of 15</p> <p>2/24/2011 11:45 AM</p> <p>Stephen Kings On Writing A Comprehensive Review and Summary ...</p> <p>http://pacejmiller.wordpress.com/2009/04/07/stephen-kings-on-writing-a...</p> <p>instead of he rode the horse, using the horse was ridden by the man. King attributes the use of passive voice to fear. People that usually write for business purposes (like me) have a tendency to overuse passive voice. I think I recall reading somewhere that it comes across as more professional and more objective. Anyway, its another thing I need to cut out come second draft time, but I think Ive already started to avoid it instinctively as Ive progressed with my novel.</p> <p>Email SubscriptionEnter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.</p> <p>GrammarIts obvious, but grammar is crucial for good writing. Its something writers need to get right. As simple as that. There are some small exceptions which a lot of writers employ, such as the short fragments typically found in writing these days (see previous sentence), but for the most part, its advisable to stick to correct grammar. Dont apply incorrect grammar and punctuation on purpose, even when you know its wrong, just to be different and creative and stylish. That is, of course, unless you are a famous writer already that people consider to be genius so you can do whatever you want (eg Cormac McCarthy).</p> <p>Sign me up!</p> <p>FEEDS</p> <p>FULL</p> <p>COMMENTS</p> <p>Cut Useless WordsKing believes most writers, especially inexperienced writers, have a tendency to put in too many useless words Good writing involves words. cutting them out and getting to the point. This is something Ive struggled with all my life, even with high school and university assignments. I just cant help myself, and I think it shows, even from this post! Oh well, better keep moving</p> <p>VocabularyKing has a simple tip with vocabulary use the most appropriate</p> <p>word, and usually, that is the first word that comes to mind. The onlyway to improve your vocabulary is to read more. When writing, dont stop so you can think of a better word, and dont put in words that you dont really know. If you dont know it then there is a good chance that other readers wont know either. The aim is to allow readers to read smoothly, and making them wonder what a word means (or having to check up what it means) runs against that objective. Ill be the first to admit that my vocabulary is not all that crash hot. It stems from a lack of reading good books throughout my childhood and adolescence. Consequently, I do find myself struggling to find the right word at times, even if its for the first word that comes to mind. As King says, however, the only way to improve is to read more!</p> <p>Plot</p> <p>5 of 15</p> <p>2/24/2011 11:45 AM</p> <p>Stephen Kings On Writing A Comprehensive Review and Summary ...</p> <p>http://pacejmiller.wordpress.com/2009/04/07/stephen-kings-on-writing-a...</p> <p>For King, the 3 elements to a story are narration, description and dialogue meaning plot is not one of them. As noted above, Kings stories usually start off with not much more than a premise and the characters, which he allows to let loose to see where they take him. I still have a bit of trouble fully appreciating that approach, but its obviously one that works for him. I do allow my characters to roam free a little, but its usually within the confines of a single scene as opposed to the entire story.</p> <p>DescriptionsDescriptions make the reader a sensory participant in the story. The key is to visualize what you want the reader to experience. However, there is a fine line when it comes to descriptions, as there is a danger of describing too much, which slows down the pace, kills the imagination and bores the reader. I have to say I have sometimes found this to be the case with some of Kings writings. Kings advice is to use your descriptions but not do too much simply say what you see and get on with the story. It is important to pick the right details that stand for everything else. Particularly useful is the advice to avoid too much description on...</p>