Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Stephen King On Writing


I know, I know, you already know about this book. You've read it. You've discussed it. I know.

But hear me, good blog reader, I just re-read it for the third time and have fallen in love all over again.

I thought it apropos - in light of my rekindled love - that I should remind all of you of King's genius.

Besides being an interesting, touching and funny Stephen King memoir, this book is chock-full of writing MUSTS.

Behold my top four nuggets of On Writing wisdom.

1. Passive voice blows. For instance:
The cat was walking down the street quickly. BAD, BAD, BAD.
The cat ran down the street. PRECISE = GOOD

2. King says, "I want you to understand that my basic belief about the making of stories is that they pretty much make themselves. The job of the writer is to give them a place to grow (and to transcribe them, of course). I couldn't agree more. Stories are "found things." It's my favorite part about writing - the finding part.

3. "The key to writing good dialogue is honesty," King says. I couldn't agree more. Let your characters talk. Not you. If you wouldn't dare drop the f-bomb but your character would, well then you better let him/her do it.

4. Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut and CUT. The saying "Kill your darlings" can either make one excited or ready to puke. I think I'm somewhere in the middle. Revising, and all of it's messy glory, is my second favorite part of the process (getting lost in the writing of my first draft is my absolute fav). Get rid of unnecessary words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, scenes, characters. As the creator, you should know* what your ultimate story is - everything on the page needs to feed the story - not the writer. Everything.(Oooooh, I think I just created a nugget of my own. "Everything on the page needs to feed the story - not the writer." Oooooh. Me like. Me like.)
*My agent can attest to the fact that the first novel I wrote did not adhere to this. I didn't know. And the novel was littered with stuff that just didn't matter to the ultimate story. I was feeding me, not the story.

Let's all promise - hands to heart - that we solemnly swear to feed the story and only the story, so help us God.

Perhaps I'll finally lose this damn weight.