Summary: On Writing by Stephen King
Stephen’s Personal Story and Beginning
Stephen has always had a strong affinity for writing. He first earned money from his writing by transcribing a scary movie. By the time he was 16, he was at least getting personalized rejection letters. This was a promising indication that he would succeed on a large scale.
He would try to sell his stories at school but would be rebuffed due to the type of writing he did. Stephen’s guidance counselor advised him to pursue a career as a sports writer, which did not sit well with him.
His First Book
Stephen King’s first full book was called Carrie and he wrote it when he was looking for a job as a teacher. However, he hated the first draft of this book and threw it in the bin. His wife got it out of the bin and read it herself; she encouraged him to keep writing.
The paperback rights of the book were sold for an astounding $400,000. King used some of this money to pay for his mother’s care after she underwent a mastectomy. In 1974, this amount was enormous, but it is now a sizable amount. Stephen’s mother died despite the treatment. Because Stephen’s father had abandoned the family when he was a little child, she had raised Stephen and his brother alone.
He was so inebriated when he wrote some of his works that he doesn’t even remember doing so. Stephen also admitted to being present when his mother died but remembers having a hangover.
I was surprised to read that King started writing at such a young age and was already getting rejection letters. It’s apparent that King wasn’t meant to be a sports writer. I enjoyed watching the movie Carrie even though horror is not my genre. I was sorry to read about King’s mom and about his drug addiction.
Stephen believes that the best writing is personal. Relating to your personal or work life in your writing will help readers connect with your story. Stephen cautions against giving up on a project just because you are having emotional or creative difficulty with it. One must battle to overcome these emotional and creative limitations in order to compose a fantastic work of writing.
If you want to be a writer, find out what your talent is and keep honing it. Being a creator will make you feel happy. The goal of writing is to improve your own life and the lives of people who will read your work. Writing shouldn’t seem like labor, it ought to resemble a creative play.
I agree with King that it’s a good idea to connect your writing with the life you are living so that readers will see your nature and connect with your story. However, it’s hard to incorporate one’s personal story into a work of fiction but it may come through the actions of the characters or through symbolism without the readers realizing it. Fiction stories are a reflection of the author’s life on some level. I think once a writer finds a genre that he or she is excited about and can comfortably write in, it will allow them to be happy and have a greater impact on the readers.
For Stephen, adverbs are frightening. According to Stephen, he utilizes adverbs for the same reason that every other writer does—he worries that the reader won’t comprehend without them. But Stephen contends that virtually all subpar writing stems from fear. As a result, make an effort to utilize as few adverbs as you can. According to Stephen, you should toss a man a rope rather than knock him out with a 90-foot steel wire if he is in danger of drowning.
About Writing Well
Simple writing is seduction, and seduction includes good conversation. A paragraph with only one phrase reads more like chatting than writing. Fiction is about making the reader feel at home, and after that, giving them a tale that will make them forget they are reading anything.
These foundations of writing must be mastered by the author:
Vocabulary, grammar, elements of style, reading, and writing
Reading quality material will also be beneficial to you. You may learn about writing with style, narrative development, and truth-telling by reading a lot of excellent writing. Every great writer was inspired to write after receiving flattery. To be swept off your feet, one must first have been swept.
Author Stephen King has challenged writers to write what they want to write and then add life to it by using their own experiences. He suggests picking a few thoughtful details for each description you write so that the reader can follow along in the story without getting bogged down in specifics. Pick a few well-considered details for each description you provide.
Stephen advises constantly keeping in mind these two key points while crafting backstories: People have a past, and most people’s histories aren’t that interesting.
When I was in grade school, many teachers told me that I have a way with words, and I earned top marks on my papers which encouraged me to keep writing. What were some of your early experiences with writing? I agree that the foundations of writing need to be mastered.
When writing anything for the first time, Stephen advises getting lost in it. As a result, you should keep your door locked and refrain from allowing anybody else to interact with this text. You do not want people to interfere. Writing will ultimately become something for everyone, even though it first is only for you.
Every excellent novel has a subject. You must choose the subject of your book after writing the first draft. The goal of the second draft is to further clarify this in your writing. Try to incorporate your main objectives into each of your drafts. According to Stephen King, your second draft ought to equal your first draft minus 10%.
You can write more freely for the first draft if you revise. Stephen advises writing quickly so that you may capture the tale precisely as it occurs to you. Themes come about once a story is written, and notice the patterns in your story. Once you’ve identified these patterns, you should emphasize them even more in the second draft. According to Stephen, using this writing strategy enables you to stay motivated about the subject matter as you write.
Good literature never starts with a topic before developing a plot. Your novel’s first draft shouldn’t take more than three months to write, in terms of time. Stephen personally writes about 10 pages every day to meet this goal. You should be able to write 180, 000 pages in three months if you continue at this pace.
I also find that writing quickly is better because it builds momentum and allows a scene to develop. It’s hard to get back into a scene or paragraph when writing slowly because it’s harder to grasp all the details. My first draft took me about three weeks to write for a middle-grade story, and I agree with King that the first draft of a novel takes about three months to write. I think writing ten pages a day is an audacious goal for beginners, and I recommend starting out with 500 words a day or writing quickly for half an hour per day.
A Writer’s Environment
Even the most naturally prolific writer finds it difficult to concentrate when there are noises like sirens and people moving around. Going to quiet locations to write should be a rule rather than an exception. Stephen advises choosing a calm environment to work in as a result. Where do you work best?
You want to establish a pattern for the time you will spend writing. Be sure that you are prepared to fall asleep at the same time every night. Repeat the same routines before bed. Both acts ask for us to remain motionless physically while allowing our imaginations to flow freely in our minds.
I’m one of those people who can concentrate on writing a book in the midst of noise or even in a busy cafeteria. You should write wherever you feel most comfortable and productive. Having a daily routine is useful for maintaining productivity without burning out.
The Toolbox of a Writer
Every writer, according to Stephen, needs to assemble their own toolset. However, you must build enough strength to carry it with you everywhere you go. The following things should be in your toolkit:
- Keeping your vocabulary in its original condition and keeping it on the top shelf of your toolbox can help you stay organized. Stephen cautions against making deliberate choices.
- Grammar – Poor sentences are always the result of poor grammar. However, individuals either innately learn their native language’s grammar by speaking and reading, or they do not.
- Style Elements – Your personal sense of style should be evident. Although other writing may serve as inspiration, your style should be unique.
Think of thematic thinking as your writer’s magnifying lens. When you’re stalled or just before beginning the second draft, ask yourself why you’re spending the time writing rather than doing something else.
Avoid these things:
Adverbs in the passive voice
Overly complex discourse attributions; simply use “said”
Loose writing results from loose thought
The Fundamentals of Being a Writer According to Stephen
The paragraph, not the phrase, serves as the fundamental unit of writing in fiction. Less organized paragraphs are preferable for fiction. Stephen compares literature to the beat as opposed to the melody. When he is employed, Stephen writes every day, even on weekends and vacations. Then, while he is not working, he won’t write anything at all.
Two things, Stephen says, are key to his success: maintaining good physical health and his marriage. These two elements contributed to the success of his work. Additionally, his wife was the one who worked with him to get healthier. She specifically advised him that he needed to go to treatment. Rehab saved his life since he stopped drinking. Stephen also suggests taking a day off once a week in addition to these easy tips.
3 elements create a story: narration, description, and dialogue.
You must get a deeper understanding of the market for fictional writing if you want to be published. Stephen advises you to read a variety of writing magazines, such as Writer’s Market. Try to have a few articles published in a few places. You may gradually get access to bigger and better publications by accumulating credits. When you get to this point, you can begin to consider hiring an agent.