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! 🙂
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.