Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

When I'm in between books, waiting for that next novel to grab my attention, I turn to a few of the books about writing I've collected. This past week I re-read Stephen King's book.

I heard about this book while watching an episode of Lost with the writer's commentary. One of them said, "If you want to be a writer you MUST read 'On Writing' by Stephen King." So, trusting those crazy and brilliant Lost writers, I ordered a copy immediately.

Most of the book is autobiographical and I must admit I skipped to the section at the end titled, "On Writing." My reason? Stephen King likes to swear. A lot. Consider yourself warned. I hate reading swearing in books. To me it's even worse than hearing it.

Despite the language I really enjoyed reading it. King is honest and funny. He tells it like it is and I found that refreshing.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

On Adverbs:

“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops” (118).

On Dialogue:

“If you expect it to ring true, then you must talk to yourself. Even more important, you must shut up and listen to others talk” (188).

On Building Characters:

“The job boils down to two things: paying attention to how real people around you behave and then telling the truth about what you see” (188).

On Theme:

"Good fiction always begins with story and progresses to theme; it almost never begins with theme and progresses to story" (209).

On Back Story:

"Probably J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter stories, is the current champ when it comes to back story. You could do worse than read these, noting how effortlessly each new book recaps what has gone before. (Also, the Harry Potter novels are just fun, pure story from beginning to end.)" p. 227

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