Thursday, March 10, 2016

On Writing

King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. New York: Pocket Books, 2000. Print.

My Thoughts
My coworker was reading this book and gushing about the advice. As I've honestly never read a Stephen King book (some of the movies scared me too much), I didn't know what to expect from this read. I did remember an excerpt from this book was in the literature book I taught out of when I was an English teacher (I can't remember now which adoption, which publisher, but I do remember seeing the cover art in the lit. book).

Ok, so this book was GREAT! It is part autobiography and part writing coach. King is honest (and there's quite a bit of cursing). He's also very funny (I'll admit I was surprised) and the narrative voice is very conversational. I felt like King and I were just sitting in the living room having a chat.

One reason I really wanted to read this book (after my coworker sharing bits with me) is I've been asked to help a friend edit her book. I've read a few chapters and offered advice more from a former English teacher's perspective than a random reader. I hoped King's book would help me help her. WOW! It did. I am thinking I need to start over with the editing and look for some things I hadn't thought about before reading King's book---like adverbs and the writer inserting the reader's thinking and how the story should be told as true to the characters as possible, but the author has to find the fossil of the story first (read King's book and you'll understand this).

Some nuggets of advice from King:

  • "The object of fiction isn't grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story" (King 134).
  • "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot" (King 145).
  • "Every book you pick up has its own lesson or lessons, and quite often the bad books have more to teach than the good ones" (King 145). 

I enjoyed how King wrote about writing his own books and how his personal life influenced the story (even subconsciously, we write about what we know on some level). In fact, I think I will challenge myself to give King's fiction a chance. I'm not sure what I'm afraid of, as I enjoy Southern Gothic Literature. Isn't King almost an extension of Poe (one of my favorite writers)?

Some practical advice King gives (besides the nuggets previously included) is a list of publications to read if you want to write. He suggests that you should read the "kind of stuff you write" as well as Writer's Market, a pricey publication that is "the most valuable of tools for the writer new to the marketplace" (King 239). King also includes a booklist of "the best books I've read over the last three or four years...In some way or other, I suspect each book in the list had an influence on the books I wrote. As you scan this list, please remember that I'm not Oprah and this isn't my book club" (King 285). I did scan the list. It's all over the place in so far as topics, authors and modern/classic reads. I can appreciate this list, as I read all over the place, too (occupation requirement, I think).

This book was easy to read, informative and enjoyable.

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