I have never thought much about reading a book by Stephen King, I’m a scaredy cat and horror books aren’t exactly of interest to me. Yet, after hearing so much about one of King’s nonfiction works On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft I decided to give it a shot. To be candid, I could not have asked for a clearer book on writing to be written.
King breaks his book up into two major parts. The first section of the book is his memoir and it highlights certain portions of his writing life, including the creation and publishing of Carrie. I could not believe that this novel under development was saved from the trashcan by his wife! This portion offered valuable lessons on finding art wherever you look– even cleaning out bathrooms.
The second portion of the book offered his take on the writing process and it is here most writers will find it to be helpful. Here are a few highlights that stuck out to me:
- The first draft of your work should be a brain dump of your story and then put away for six months. The second draft of the story is where you will pick it apart and polish it. 2nd draft = 1st draft – 10% of the text
- Always have two or three drafts to your stories
- Stories are like fossils needing to be excavated. The writer should start with the characters and general premise of the story, but the details, themes, and even the ending (!) needs to be unearthed in the writing process like the skeletal frame of a T-Rex.
- Write with an Ideal Reader in mind
- Be honest! With the exception of adverbs (adverbs kill your writing), nothing is worse than lying to your readers
- Read a lot so you can write a lot
If you write or want to write, this work is both accessible and engaging. I highly recommend it!
What books have helped you write?