Saturday, April 17, 2010

On Writing by Stephen King

Memoir+ Style Manual= Awesome

I can't believe I've never read Stephen King's On Writing before. While perusing the writing and publishing section in my local bookstore I stumbled upon this insightful book.

I have always loved Stephen King, he is a modern master of the craft. He creates intricate webs of plot and character like no one else can. I remember reading The Stand in AP English in high school, how it was the only non-classic on our approved reading list for the year, and how it changed what I read and how I write, forever.

But On Writing gave me even more. He shares glimpses of his childhood and the pain and struggle of his early writing career. We get to journey into his head (and oh, what an awesome place it is) and learn how he thinks and how he approaches the joy and task of writing. It is both instructional and enlightening.

"The object of fiction isn't grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story... to make him/her forget, whenever possible, that he/she is reading a story at all."

"There was a sharp smell of alcohol. A clank as the ear doctor opened his sterilizer. I saw the needle in his hand-- it looked as long as the ruler in my school pencil-box-- and tensed. The ear doctor smiled reassuringly and spoke the lie for which doctors should be immediately jailed (time of incarceration to be doubled when the lie is told to a child): "Relax, Stevie, this won't hurt." I believed him.

He slid the needle into my ear and punctured my eardrum with it. The pain was beyond anything I have ever felt since-- the only thing close was the first month of recovery after being struck by a van in the summer of 1999. That pain was longer in duration but not so intense. The puncturing of my eardrum was pain beyond the world. I screamed. There was a sound inside my head-- a loud kissing sound. Hot fluid ran out of my ear---it was as if I had started to cry out of the wrong hole."

On Writing offers encouragement as well.

King shares his struggle when he first began writing Carrie, how he questioned his ability to write from a teenage girls perspective, from Planet Female as he called it. This just happens to be similar to a struggle I am facing on my new project. How do I do this thing justice? Who do I think I am writing about this? But you put pen to paper and you just do.

It is possible, he tells us all, you can do this thing.

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