On Writing by Stephen King

I recently finished this book on writing theory, and I was blown away! Stephen King does a beautiful job incorporating lessons of the craft into his chapters, while with a voice of humor and sarcasm. I’d recommend this book to any inspiring writer. It’s certainly helped improve my ability to produce concise sentences. Afterward, I deleted more than a tenth of my rough manuscript, filled with copious paragraphs and words that no longer served a purpose.

Here are some of the highlights of the book that struck me:

  • Reading with writing – King mentions that those who write without reading lack the tools and the time to write. I agree with this, as reviewing the successful work of others is a reliable way to discover tricks of your own. I consider it research with the enjoyment of science fiction (or what have you).
  • Passive voice – No one likes passive voice, but this crude habit often weaves into manuscripts anyway. I’ve read from NY Times Bestsellers who illustrate passive voice. While some readers may not mind it, avoiding the passive voice is always a safe bet.
  • Excessive adverbs – Every writer is guilty of this to some degree, including yours truly. We love to fill sentences with flowery words, afraid that the reader may not understand. King says this is the mark of an insecure writer. Half of the writing craft belongs to the writer and the other half to the reader’s imagination. While we can set the stage, we cannot always control how a person perceives a given scene or piece of information.
  • It’s not about the money – Writing solely for financial reasons rarely works. Successful writers enjoy their craft, regardless of their failure streak.
  • Needy writers – Having someone give you routine support is essential, or at least helpful for the purposes of writing. This periodic boost washes away self-doubt and spurs a writer forward, increasing their productivity.
  •  The Muse – King mentions a ‘Muse’ that arrives when we engross in our work. If we establish a consistent routine with the craft, this encourages our creativity. Defend this period of writing (and reading), and be sure to give the Muse a home to whisper its originative words into your mind every day.
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You can purchase the book here on Amazon for around five dollars. It’s a worthwhile read, even for non-writers, and puts a lot into perspective. Any feedback to improve this blog post is appreciated. Thanks for reading!

 

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