Monday, September 15, 2008

Stephen King On Writing

In case you are unaware there is a very popular book about the craft of writing by the man himself, Stephen King, called "On Writing". Do check it out if you get the chance.

However this is not what this post is about. This is a brief post sharing a short YouTube video of Mr. King answering the question about what advice he could give to aspiring writers.

His advice is great, but it's what he says at the end that really struck a chord with me. For a long time I read books in awe, I just could not fathom how authors could put that many words on the page, and so well, and such cool ideas . . . and then, one day, I read a book, closed it and thought, "Hmm . . . am I going crazy or was that published book I just read not very good?" It was a very strange moment for me, and I think it is so awesome that Mr. King points out what a big deal that is when that moment happens. I have never heard anyone else mention it before, so I just had to share this clip. Enjoy:

10 comments:

Mary said...

Great clip ... and what a T-shirt!

"On Writing" is a wonderful book. My other favourite, though technically for screenwriters, is "Story" by Robert McKee.

Corked Wine and Cigarettes said...

"On Writing" is a must-read. I'm right in the middle of it, in fact. Should have read it back when I started all this, but I think I'm cursed to do everything backwards.

Oh, well...

P.s. I'm in the middle of Alex (Put down "On Writing to read it). Loving it! You've got a very unique voice. The storytelling is so refreshing. Looking forward to Timothy!

Criss said...

On Writing is wonderful, but then again, it's written by Stephen King, so how could it be anything less? :P

I know I'm a pretty glass-is-half-full person, but I'm violently reminded of my negativity when I come across things like this. Reading a crappy book was described by you and Mr. King as a "magical moment" - I get spittin' mad that some other shmoe got published, and I'm still sitting here with my wonderful ideas and poetic prose and no contract (uh... it's about that time that the little voice in my head tells me one of the reasons I have no contract is because I haven't finished editing any of those wonderful ideas nor have I researched agents to whom I would submit those works once they're ready...)

Catherine J Gardner said...

I agree, an excellent book. And oh my, I have read (or rather given up on) many, many very bad books.

djpaterson said...

Thanks for sharing that clip - I hadn't seen it before, although Stephen King said pretty much the same thing when he came to London a couple of years ago.

I agree with the other comments too - On Writing is a great book for would be writers - very inspirational.

DJ

Paula Weston said...

Brilliant. I'm with you - it's something I've thought about quietly, but never had it so beautifully articulated before!

Adrienne said...

mary - isn't it weird when you hear a word or a title for a first time you suddenly see it everywhere? I was just introduced to "Story" on Wednesday, and now here you are posting about it! Maybe I should check it out!

corked - I am so glad, and thank you so much! I only hope Timothy lives up to Alex (*nervous sigh*)!

criss - yeah I get that feeling too. Remember that this is the story of the first time that happens which was totally crazy and, at least for me, unbelievable. Each subsequent time it becomes less and less exciting and more and more frustrating. But it does also help push you to write the best you can. I say use the anger, harness it!

catherine - yeah, this summer especially for some reason . . .

dj - I've seen Mr. King in person twice, but always as an author being interviewed, not really dishing out advice. I am most jealous of your experience!

paula - I know right! It wasn't even until I saw this clip that it even occurred to me that I had thought that thought in the first place! Very astute!

Sarah said...

I had that moment just a few months ago, just before I started the story I'm working on now. It was a big deal to me because I've wanted to be a writer for most of my life, but at that moment I felt like I really could. I'm so buying that book when I can find it! (Our bookstore didn't have it in stock).

Catherine J Gardner said...

I've just tagged you on my blog if you're interested. :)

Belletristic Bloggette said...

Hi Adrienne,
I'm a newbie. Just wanted to say thanks for posting this!

Some of the best writing advice I ever received was from children’s author, Janet Wong, at a conference, some years back. She said the advice, she was going to give us, seemed simple, but required discipline. She said that becoming an author was like training for the Olympics; building your muscle consisted of writing a lot, and that one must, "Read, read, read."

So I am not surprised to see Stephen King's advice within the same vein.

In regards to being on the right track when one realizes one can do better at constructing a novel, I have, also, seen this in screenwriting books. Many screenwriters decided they could creative better movies, then what was being hashed out, and they set out to do it.

Back to the subject of reading and why it is important to writers, I'm sure you have heard editors and agents asked what they were looking for in fiction stories. Or in other words: what's hot? Some of the bulk answers I have heard (in addition to the novel needing a compelling voice) pertain to something like, 'Give me something similar to what has been done before, and that sold well, but with your creative spin on it.' So: recycle; plots that is.

So, in order to recycle anything, one must posses the raw materials in order to do so. Furthermore, if one is going to implement elements of marketable plots, within a novel etc., then one must have a knowledge of previous marketable plots. Thus, one must read a lot!

So, yes, it is simplistic yet fantastic and essential advice. In fact, I am signing off now so I can walk to the library.

Thanks again!