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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Stephen King On Writing. . .

For anyone one who knows me, this is an odd book for me to pick up, as I avoid horror novels of all kinds like the plague for a number of personal reasons. But I wanted to see what I could learn from a man who’s written over fifty worldwide bestsellers. No one can ignore the fact that King is doing something right. And as we strive to be the best we can in our craft, he has some advice worth looking at. Some of it might be old hat to you, while to others it might be a refreshing reminder as we start a new year.


Read a Lot and Write a Lot

I know we’ve all heard that advice before. A writer needs to read as much as he writes, but King obviously thinks it worth emphasizing, and so do I. Every book we read teaches us something. It shows us what we love about what we read. . .or sometimes, what we don’t like. Have you ever read a book to the last page then wanted to beg the author for more? When that happens, go back and dissect the pages. Find out why. Then, on the other hand, have you thrown a book across the room after a couple of dozen pages never to return? Why? Figuring out the good, the bad, and the ugly can help transform our own books into something that will catch an editor’s eye. . .and make our readers beg for more.

Write Regularly

As for writing and getting published, there is no easy way to make it to the bestseller list, but without sitting down everyday in your office chair and writing, it will never happen. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to write today. Writers write! Sets goals each day and stick to them--even when you don't feel like it.

Characters

Stephen King has set me free from character sheets! Okay, not that I ever really worked on them beforehand, but I did feel guilty because I didn’t. One thing we have to remember is that every writer has their own approach to writing. Personally, I enjoy getting to know my characters as I write. I know each of my characters on a first name basis when I write that first page, but, oh, the things I learn as I go along. That’s what works for me, and you know what? However you approach character development is fine, as long as your final draft gives the reader characters that breathe and jump off of the page. And that's exactly what all of us are striving for.

Critique Groups

We all need feedback on what we’ve written. While it won’t always be the same, it’s an essential part of the writing process. If you’re not in a critique group, let me encourage you right now to join a local group, or a national group like American Christian Fiction Writers that has online critique groups. What you will receive could turn out to be priceless.

Find Yourself a Writing Spot

You might write best in a plush office in the back of the house or a small spot in the middle of the living room. King suggests you find a place where you can shut the door to life during the hours you write. I know how difficult this can be. For the first few years after I began writing, I wrote in the middle of the living room surrounded by the kids in my home daycare. It wasn’t always easy because they had to come first. But we have to take our writing seriously, and, in turn, others will as well.

Honesty in Character Emotions and Reactions

Have you ever read a book where the motivation for a character’s actions fell flat? I hate to admit it, but I see that far too often in the books I read. King emphasizes that one of the keys to dialogue, and all aspects of fiction, is honesty. Characters need to behave in a believable manner. Look at real life where sometimes the bad guy feels guilty or sorry for his victim, or the hero wants to walk away from what’s right. Life isn’t black and white. Neither are emotions and reactions.

Let’s all dig deeper this year!

Lisa

2 Comments:

Blogger Beth Goddard said...

Lisa,

I like you was hesitant to read this book but I finally did last year. After I got passed the first half with some of his crudity (lol) I greatly enjoyed the last part on writing. In fact, something struck me later and I had to go back and grab it from the library.

One thing that struck me as intresting is that he writes a book like you would "unearth a fossil" he says without plotting.
I struggle between the plotting or no plotting thing.

Anyway, it was an interesting read.

5:48 PM  
Blogger SolShine7 said...

Great post. Thanks for passing on the pointers. I'm not much of a King fan either but we can learn from him.

4:21 PM  

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