Friday, August 17, 2012

On Writing

I’m not quite sure why I waited until I actually finished writing a novel to read Stephen King’s On Writing, but I did. And like everyone else on the planet, I highly recommend it, whether you like to write or if you like memoirs of writers. Part memoir, part writing guide, the book shows why King excels at his craft.
I only recent became a King fan. I read Carrie a million years ago, but just thought of him as a horror writer, despite liking movies like The Green Mile, and shied away. The reviews of 11/22/63 convinced me to give him another try and I quickly awed at his skill as a writer and story teller. In On Writing, King shares brief glimpses at his childhood and early years, the events that formed him into a writer. He then shares his advice to writers. Equally entertaining and helpful, I made quite a few notes to help me improve my writing.
·         Focus on character development and story. Let the characters carry you along. Don’t plot everything out. I think this was my problem with previous attempts at novel writing. I felt like I had to plot everything out and had notebooks full of outlines and character background and notes and I was bored by the time I tried to actually write.
·         Write at least 1,000 words every day. King writes 2,000, but he suggests starting at 1,000. As I have a full-time job and other responsibilities, that seems like a good goal. I plan to write 1,000 words each day in fiction – blog posts and work-related working don’t count!
·         Stop using passive voice! Yes, I already knew that one. We all do, we just don’t do it. During my next edit of my draft I will rewrite in the active voice as much as possible!
·         2nd draft = 1st draft -10%. I delete a lot as go but I think it would be good to keep in mind.
I also learned that I really want King’s life. I like my life and don’t dream of fame and fortune, of being a rock star or actress. But living like King? Yeah, that I want. Here’s his typical day: write 2,000 words, eat lunch, nap, walk, handle correspondence, read 4-6 hours, spend time with family. Did you catch the “read 4-6 hours” part? Yes please!
Do you have a favorite King novel? Any recommendations?


  1. Yes, Stephen King has the perfect life! My favourite novel of his is Misery, it's very tightly paced and extremely creepy.

    1. Thanks! I tried to get it at the library and it was checked out, so I'll have to reserve it and try it next. I got Salem's Lot instead.

  2. I realized it was crazy to call King a genre writer after reading this book. It is fabulous - as a memoir, because it is a string of incidents rather than the whole story; as a book on writing - because it doesn't include any actual "write ten pages every day" kind of rules! Great review, and I like the fact that you mentioned the things which helped you. Thanks!

    1. Thanks! After reading 11/22/63 and On Writing, I felt horrible for judging King as a genre writer. He's a great writer, period.