Sunday, May 12, 2019

On Writing

On Writing begins as Stephen King's autobiography. He discusses what he remembers about his childhood. He had somewhat of a rough upbringing. He enjoyed writing, and managed to accumulate a large number of rejection notices. He did not find much pleasure in school. However, he did find it a good place to sell some of his early writings. Alas, the school administration was not too fond of this. He somehow managed to get into college and even get a teaching degree (and meet his wife.) His first big break came from Carrie. He originally threw it in the trash can. His wife found it, and made him finish it. He received an advance for it, and then made the big bucks when the paperback rights were purchased. However, all was not easy going. He alcohol and drug use. He does not have kind words to say about substance abuse. He does not think it helps the craft, merely that creative people find themselves succumbing to it. He had supporters that intervened in his life to help him break the habit and become sober. Things seemed to go well for him until an inattentive driver hit him on a Maine country road. He describes his experience there and trials of making it "back to life" after the collision.
In between the biographical elements, he gives his advice about writing. The main bits of advice are to read a lot and write a lot. The first draft should be private and finished quickly. Later drafts involve readers. You are writing for an audience, so it is ok to take their feedback. It is often useful to write with a particular reader in mind. For mechanics, he suggests clear and concise. Adverbs are your enemy. The dialog should tell the story. Flowery language may be ok, but excessive ornamentation can get in the way of the story. Revisions should reduce the size of the manuscript and increase the quality. He believes that some writers are awful, and some are great. Most writers are in between. Through work, "competent" writers can become good writers. There is some "luck" in getting the right contacts in publishing industry. However, that luck is mostly overrated. Through work, any good writer can find the right audience and get published.

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