Monthly Archives: June 2016

On Writing, Stephen King

On Writing, Stephen King

Not wrestling the guy–just his advice! Continuing my series on my favorite quotes and epigraph, I want to share two quotes (and the epigraph) from Stephen King’s book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – one quote I love and agree with completely the other quote is, in my humble opinion, 100% wrong, and terrible advice for writers!

Before I get to the quotations, a word about the book On Writing: I highly recommend it to anyone who is a writer or considering becoming a writer. Although I found the memoir part to be a bit slow and boring, I dare say King’s fans will find it fascinating. More importantly the advice bits in the book (with the exception noted below) are incredibly valuable and worth the slog through the rest. Pay special attention to the appendices at the back of the book: “And Furthermore Part I,” which contains an actual example of King’s editing process (worth studying); “And Furthermore Part II,” which contains a lovely book list.

My favorite King quote: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

In my own work I’ve found this to be absolutely true! Reading, reading, reading, good books, bad books, poetry, literary journals, movie reviews, even a well written cereal box contributes to your knowledge and skills. For me there’s nothing more inspiring than a piece of brilliant writing. It forces me to strive for excellence in my own work. Even crappy writing has its place—to instruct us what not to do. Some complain it’s difficult finding the time to read, and admittedly, I don’t always have time to read a novel, but so much wonderful short writing exists out there today, there’s really no excuse. Check out Kindle Singles! As far as writing goes, I’ve found these skills must be exercised, or like flabby thighs, they begin to lose tone and appeal.

My least favorite King quote: “Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.”

WRONG! Please, if you’re a new writer or considering becoming a writer, do not follow this advice. In your work, it’s of the utmost importance to use precisely the best word to convey the action, thought, or feeling you’re trying to get across to the reader. Well, guess what? That precise word does not always pop right into your mind! (Unless you’re SK, apparently) You may be able to visualize it, feel it, hear it, even smell it, but at times the proper word may frustratingly elude you. At these moments, the thesaurus is your best friend. I use it dozens of times a day—sometimes just to check to be certain there’s not a better word than the one I’ve already chosen. I believe that makes me a better writer. Sorry, Mr. King, but I take exception to your rule!

As a little bonus, I leave you with the epigraph to King’s On Writing. It always makes me smile:

Honesty’s the best policy.~ Miguel de Cervantes

Liars prosper.~ Anonymous

Apologies to anyone who thought this post was about wrestling! 🙂

Tea Party

Tea Party

“When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.” ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles.

I love great quotations and epigraph. In fact, my original draft of Transcender: First Timer, featured an epigraph at the beginning of each chapter, but due to space and copyright considerations, I dropped them before publishing the book. Since, as you may have noticed, I’ve had a bit of difficulty keeping up with my blog recently *blushes*, which I attribute to lack of a consistent theme, I’ve decided to select a favorite quotation or epigraph each week and write about it here.

I chose to begin this blog series with one of my favorite quotations on writing from Steven Pressfield’s the War of Art, a book I highly recommend to any writer or aspiring writer. For me, the above quotation beautifully sums up a strange phenomenon that sometimes occurs when I’m writing. During those mystical magical times, when I’m in the zone and the elusive Muse drops by for tea, the story takes on a life of it’s own, almost as if it’s writing itself. It can be an eerie experience. I’ve had characters say and do things I never planned or even dreamed of including in the storyline. But in that otherworldly place where my own existence is subservient to the narrative, it’s the characters’ story not mine, and I’ve found it best to let them run with it.

For example [spoiler alert if you haven’t read the entire Transcender Trilogy]: In a scene in Book Two of the Trilogy, one character tells another that someone with whom she is close is not human at all, but an automaton. Of course she was stunned to learn this—but so was I! It definitely was NOT a planned plot element. I soon realized, however, I should have known it all along, and if he could fool me, he could certainly fool her. In fact it worked so well with the rest of the story that I couldn’t imagine why I hadn’t thought of it in the first place.

These are the mind-blowing moments that make all the drudgery, anxiety, and crippling self-doubt of being a writer worthwhile. Of course, it takes some sustained writing for this marvel to occur, but anyone who has slogged away crafting an entire book has most likely entertained the Muse on more than one occasion. Here’s hoping she visits you (and me) often!

Wishing you happy reading and writing and Happy Father’s Day to all you dads or surrogate dad’s out there!

About


I’m the author of the Transcender Trilogy, TRANSCENDER: First-Timer, STREAMING STARS, and the upcoming ILLLUMINOSITY, which blends science-fiction, fantasy, and romance in an exciting cross-dimensional adventure.

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