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?