Friday, July 22, 2011

5 Things I liked about "On Writing" by Stephen King

I recently finished reading Stephen King's book On Writing which is part memoir and part about writing. I highly suggest writers read this book. My Dad was the one who had recommended the book to me when I first started reading. I think I should have read it sooner.

After reading this I decided that I wanted to do a quick blog on what I took away from Stephen King on writing.

1) Reading is key to writing. The more you read the better your writing will become. Okay, so I didn't really learn this from him, but I like it coming from him. I actually learned this while going through school to become a teacher. It was drilled into us in almost every education class available.

2) "Write what you like." Somehow I keep stumbling upon advice in the cyberworld about writing that says write what's popular, then when you break into the business write what you like. Uh, no thank you. I'm going to write what I like and go with Stephen King's advice.

3) Plot isn't important (at least not in the beginning). I have found that I like to let my characters take me where they will. After the first draft is written then I worry about fixing the plot and making sense of their story. I was beginning to think this was one of those "you're a beginner" mistakes. It isn't. Stephen King does it too. Yipee!

4) Strunk and White rule! I have this book, but I'm not sure where it disappeared to. I seriously need to find it before I get hacking away at my writing. My Dad and Stephen King are on to something with that book.

5) Adverbs are cluttering. I agree. Too bad I like to use them, a lot. This is one of those things I'll need to look at when I get editing this summer.

Honestly, I could keep going on things I took away from this book, but that would be cheating. Wouldn't it? Then you wouldn't have to read the book. Anyways, I highly recommend this book for writers. You don't have to use King's methods. Just read the book and enjoy learning how one of the most popular authors of our times got to where he is today.

By far my favorite quote from this book is regarding critiques. King sends his manuscripts out to several people before making a final judgement call on his work. If everyone dislikes something, back to the drawing board. If they like it, Score! If it's a mixed review: " baseball, tie goes tot he runner; for the novelist, it goes to the writer."

Your Turn -> What have you learned from Stephen King, if you've read this book?


  1. Thanks so much for the reminder to follow the characters first and not to worry so much about plotting during the first draft.
    I'm to the point in my WIP2 that I'm trying to figure out "next steps" and honestly, I just need to tap into that sense of wonder that I first started with, and worry about plotting later!

    My favorite part of On Writing is the idea that the story is a fossil waiting to be unearthed. It's there waiting for me to dig it out bit by bit. Also, his idea that the book first starts out in the writer's imagination, but finishes in the reader's. That part resonates with me because I feel the same way...that for one moment, the reader and writer share the same dreamspace.

  2. Thanks for stopping by Liza! :-)

    I have seen so many veteran writers saying that you have to have an outline before you ever write that I was starting to think I was doing the wrong thing by following my characters. I felt like King was giving me the okay with what I'm doing.

    My copy is all marked up with highlights and pages earmarked. This has to be my favorite writing book, by far.