“Captain, the shuttle from the S.S. Carrie is docking in Bay Two. Captain King is confirmed on board.”
“Thank you, Ohura. I’m entering the bay now.”
“Can you get me an autograph of his last…”
“Oh. Okay then. I’ll just sit here 24 hours a day listening for messages because you have to know things immediately. Haven’t been out of the chair in eight years. Can’t even have a crossword, nope, listen, listen, listen and repeat like a parrot…”
“Fine. What book”
“Appropriate, replicate a copy into the conference room and I’ll have him sign it.”
“Thank you, Captain. Ohura out.”
Review of: Stephen Kings “On Writing”
People write books. Not legends. Not machine formula’s. People. This is the primary thought that I take away after reading “On Writing”.
Each of us is a different person. Different experiences. Different voice. Different thought. The two things that we all have in common is that we write and we use a process to get our thoughts and visions across through the written word. And in the end of the day the reasons why we write and the process that we use, while there may be some similarities of method, all of it, is unique to the individual writer.
I’ve read a few other reviews of “On Writing” and I can see where others have taken shots at King and this book. Larry Brooks comes to mind the most. I adore Brooks work, Story Engineering is on the shelf next to me as I write this and a book I reference often. Nothing that I am about to say should be taken as “against” anyone. Simple statements.
Larry was not fond of Kings “On Writing” for the same reason that I would bet King would be against Brooks method. Larry is a plotter, an outliner, a master of structure, writing through sensing (tangible/concrete). King writes from and to human emotions, by feel, by the ethereal touch of minds, by intuition (abstract/theoretical). This corresponds to the Briggs-Meyer test, by the way, and I think is a primary factor in the divide between plotters, pantsers and hybrids. One could say it is built into our natures to write and approach writing as we do. King alludes to this on several occasions in the book, although indirectly.
After reading “On Writing”, I can see the advantage of both methods. While intuition matters and writing to emotion is the key to strong fiction, it must be done or at least organized in the end, into some type of structure. King points out at different times in the second section of the book that he “knew” he was coming to an important part of one book or another and therefore had to take a certain action or handle a scene a certain way. This would correspond to Brooks “plot points or milestones”. King just gets there a different way, internally understanding the need. As I mentioned, intuition.
The lesson that I take away from reading “On Writing”, which I must say I devoured, is that each writer must find their own method, their own process and write from their own truth. I, nor any of us, will ever be Stephen King, nor will any of us be able to write using his methods. Stephen, I believe, came to this conclusion himself during the writing of “On Writing”. What he ends up giving is a very basic formula, that can be used to start one on the path to finding their own method.
Read a lot (to “see” how fiction works) + Write consistently (every day, to use what you learn) + follow your own truths (write what you’ve lived, what you understand, what you’ve experienced, what you dream about) + understand your toolkit (language, grammar, etc.).
Do all of this with courage and heart, not for money, not for fame, but because it is your passion and your odds of success will increase. And one final piece of advice from King: If you want to be a professional writer then be one, don’t talk about doing it, don’t aspire; Just be it. Own it. Live it.
Sure there are large portions of “On Writing” that seem to have nothing to do with writing and follow a memoir format, however, I think every part of it shows the reality of the writing life and gives insight into how each of us can find, nurture and unleash the power of our inner writer. King just approaches the subject, writing and life in his own way, which, my friends, is the point.
I would highly recommend this book (and Larry’s) if you haven’t read it yet (or haven’t in a few years). Thanks for reading.
And on to the ROW checkin…
-Write 7k of fiction each week. I exceeded this goal. I’m currently working on a short that has potential, building on a random prompt that I received months ago from a Sonia G. Medeiros flash fiction challenge and am loving it.
-Turn in WWBC assignments on time. Nothing here this week. I plan to take a few hours today to work on the logline and antagonist.
-Treadmill for 30 minutes 5 times a week. I walked Tuesday through Saturday bringing my 32 walks by January 31 challenge with Marcia Richards to 18. I’m still on track to complete the challenge and have started doubling this up with a segment of my daily reading.
-Read one craft book during the Round. Completed “On Writing”, the review is above *smile* I’ll be dropping this one off the list after this update since it is complete.
-Read three fiction books during the Round. I’m on page 156 of This Immortal by Roger Zelazny. Fun book with a clever concept. I’ll be finishing this in the next day or two and will put up a brief review in next Sunday’s post.
-Keep up sponsor duties. All good last Sunday and a total fail on Wednesday. Some weeks my work/family/writing schedule is mega-tight. This isn’t an excuse, it’s simple reality. I also didn’t post an update on Wednesday and there is a strong possibility that this will become a trend, responsibilities are shifting and this is a small adjustment. Life is life and ROW understands that.
I hope you all had a fantastic week and I’ll be touring around to say hi throughout the day.