This past week I spent reading a book I was told was a must read for writers. On Writing by Stephen King. I’ve never read any of his novels, but I trusted that I was being given good advice. I’m not going to “review” this book because…well…it’s Stephen Fucking King. I can’t imagine that I have anything to say about him that hasn’t already been said a million times in a thousand different ways…and it’s doubtful he needs any help in the publicity arena.
There are a lot of books out there that have been written for the purpose of helping new writers. And I’ve read several of the key ones either for school or on the advice of an author. This book didn’t really say anything any of those other one’s didn’t already say.
- Don’t use adverbs when at all possible.
- Have a creative nook in which you write your masterpiece
- Prepare to fail and get up again
- Character, theme, etc
If you’ve never read a book on writing before, this is a great one to start with. If you’ve read several already, still read this book- but keep the expectations low that you will find something that you haven’t already found before. Although, you might.
I will say this; it’s a very entertaining book to read. The first half of the book is more memoir than writing advice, which I found fun. He’s had some interesting events in his life- or his writing makes them interesting. Either way, good reads.
The second half of the book deals mostly with the craft itself. Some of the advice was a reminder of previously read/heard and some of it contradicted advice I’ve heard before. I think what I liked about this part of the book, even though the topics were the same, his voice is very different than others I’ve read. It was interesting the whole way through.
I suppose what I learned most from this book- or reminded about is that
- It’s okay to not write flowery prose. If you’ve read my writings you know I’m pretty bare bones when it comes to description.
- It’s okay not to have an outline before you start writing.
I enjoyed On Writing as well. I like the way he talked about writing as a craft, something you have to work at, and practice, and get better at. For a long time people just told me, “you're a good writer!”, and I believed them. “I have a wonderful gift!” But it's not enough. Lots of people get that gift. You have to keep working to make something out of it.