I love to write and one of my best intentions is to do more writing. I am fascinated by the writing process – I believe it to be unique to each of us. I am intrigued by the critical thinking and editing that happens at the so-called point of a pencil, or at the keyboard today.
I recently went back and picked up a never-finished read of Stephen King’s book, “On Writing.” I say, “never finished” because I must have picked this book up close to a half-dozen times and I always got bogged down in the first half of the book which is mostly autobiographical. It is in the second half of the book that Stephen King gets into his personal ideas and rituals of writing.
Ok, take-aways are required now. My biggest take-away is a common belief I have with Stephen King, good writers are big readers. Your writing is in a direct relationship with your reading. My advice to any aspiring writer is to read, and read a lot, and write a lot. I really did not need to read all of Stephen King’s book to gain this take away as I already had it. I have other sins, my biggest being procrastination.
Stephen King also talks about the writer-reader relationship. We write to be read. When we lose sight or care for the reader, the writing loses its purpose and becomes just words on paper. Every piece of writing needs to be constantly written for a reader. Lose sight of this relationship and the writing will find its way to the sea of forgotten bits.
King does give the reader some writing about technique and craft. He talks about description, a sort of mantra of mine. I do not want too much description; I want to have some fun with a minimalist approach to description and let my imagination fill in the details. I do not like description that is like a camera and sees more than my eyes and heart would see.
Dialogue is also a craft in itself and comes from being a listener. We learn how to write dialogue from listening to talk and speech. Bad dialogue sounds phony very quickly and will turn off the reader.
And then, in any book about writing, there is always going to be something about language, revisions, and the relentless war on adverbs or other superfluous language. My best advice is keep it simple. Don’t try to dazzle the reader. Use simple language, and cut out what does not advance the writing or story.
I do not think there was much in this book that I did not already know. It was good to hear it coming from Stephen King and learn his thoughts about writing. They are pretty much what you will find in most books about writing.
I did have a hard time finishing this book as I mentioned earlier. I was more than once bogged down in the autobiographical part of the book and put the book down with a bookmark at least two or three times. It was good to finish it.
Some of my lack of enthusiasm is I have read so many books on writing, I really did not need one more. My last comment is there is a fair amount of f-bombing in this book. It is not that I am some sort of a purist or angel walking the earth, but I did not think this added anything to the writing. It was a bit of a turn-off for me.
If you are interested in writing, and can tone out some of the rough language, then I would suggest you give this book a try. If you do not care too much about the biographical stretch, then jump half way through the book to where Stephen King starts talking about writing.
Enough said, and at least it was not political. I am weary of politics and especially weary of the president.
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