Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stephen King On Writing

Of the many gifts I received on Christmas, one of the ones I enjoyed the most was "On Writing" by Stephen King. This is actually the tenth anniversary issue of the book. Part memoir, part writing advice, King shares everything succinctly (he describes the explanation for brevity in one of the forewords).

I enjoyed this book for several reasons, but what I liked the most was his candor. I felt like he had brought me next to his writing desk to tell me about the craft and his life with amusing and somewhat surprising detail.

The majority of his writing advice served as reminders for things I had learned from other sources, primarily that writing should be concise. He makes some good points against adverbs, especially dialogue attribution (such as he said vehemently). I try to avoid passive voice as much as possible, but I do admit a fondness for adverbs and adjectives; nothing excessive, certainly, but as I’ve pointed out in a past article, I can only be so brief before my thoughts are no longer conveyed. That said, I understand much more about the give and take between author and reader after reading this book, so perhaps that knowledge will keep my adverbs at bay.

I don’t read a lot of writing advice books, so I can’t really stand behind any single book and proclaim it as crucial for good writing. I do think that King’s book makes a lot of great points for consideration for new authors or authors (like me) with some credentials to our names. This probably isn’t something that an author of multiple published novels would need because he/she has likely already figured things out, but I would guess that it would still be an entertaining read, one that would give a sense of comradery with a prolific author.

I recommend picking this up if you have the chance. More than likely, you’ll learn something or be reminded of something. If nothing else, I think you’ll find it a great read. Go ahead and pull up a chair next to Mr. King. He’s ready to share his thoughts with you.

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