Stephen King, On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft (2000)

From the list of books I reviewed in this blog, it should be clear that Stephen King is not among my favorite authors. I remember reading some stories of his, but never one of his major best-sellers like Shining, or Carrie. It’s not pure snobbism (though there must be some, to be frank), but as much as I admire the capacity to frighten people by the sole power of words, I don’t like to be submitted to this treatment. I’d much rather read a good mystery or thriller than a horror story. Horror stories are irrational, while I like to get a good grip on the why and how and who after a crime. I like the satisfaction of knowing that the detective or the police caught the criminal and that order is restored. Horror stories don’t offer you these guaranties. 

I remember the Hobgoblin’s previous blog, where he used to digress about Stephen King’s metaphors. As much as I respect his decision, I wish I could still read his wonderful analysis of some of King’s stories. That’s what brought me to King’s biography. The first part of the book tells how he came to write and to live on his books, the second part is a collection of advices to writers, and the last part tells how writing kept him going and sort of saved his life after a terrible accident. It’s a very pleasant read, very straightforward. I guess that he takes the writing market a bit too lightly, especially when he says that if you write well, you’ll be published sooner or later. I don’t think he quite remembers how terribly hard and crushing rejection slips can be, how writers easily identify the rejection of a story with being rejected altogether.

There are many sensible tips in King’s book, none of them completely new either, such as: kill your darlings, don’t use adjectives or adverbs etc. etc. But I still like to hear someone tell me over and over again that I should write the first draft with the door shut, to finish it as fast as possible and then only start to review, revise, ask for feedback. However often I’ve been told that, I still can’t do it. I seem to lose momentum before the end. Stephen King seems to plead for simplicity and spontaneity in writing: just tell it straight, without making any fuss and using complicated words. I’m not sure that it fits all genres and writers, but it indeed does wonders for the self-confidence. I’m trying to keep this in mind while working on a short story right now, and I quite like it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, someone told me I must shut the door and work on that first draft as fast as possible.

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4 thoughts on “Stephen King, On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft (2000)

  1. Geez, can I read your short story?

    I agree with you on King and this book. Also good for inspiration/confidence: Bird by Bird by Anne LaMotte

  2. Your writing advice is also something I’ve heard frequently too: write now, edit later. My problem is that I get stuck at the classic third of the way in, start looking backwards rather than forwards and then find myself caught in the mire. Good luck with your next story.

  3. Pingback: Check out Smithereens « Charlottesville Words

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