Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

Stephen King on WritingOne of the books just about every big writer, agent, publisher, or whatever in the industry says you should read as an author is Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. So what if it’s been nearly 17 years since it came out.

King covers everything from his childhood and a very bad case of poison ivy to his being hit by a driver that almost killed him. And from his first earnings as a writer from his mother paying for his childhood stories to his latest works around the year 2000. Mixing the two strings of discussion in such a way that you learn just as much about writing from reading the book as you do from what he says about writing in the book.

One thing I realize from Stephen King is, that no one is right all the time. Even King admits there isn’t a hard fast rule about writing. There are rules about writing, but not about writing.  Did that make sense to you? Welcome to an example of how King sometimes gets his point across although it was my point in this instance.

Great things can be said by great people and garbage by even greater ones, but if you want to learn anything, listen to those who do things rather than talk about them. There is a reason you don’t see dozens of books about writing from King. He didn’t want to say anything unless he had something to say. It had to be different and it had to be useful information.

He succeeds on all counts. His examples are excellent and the encouragement one can get from following his path to success is inspiring. Even King had his moments of doubt but he never gave up. He hated one of the books that he is most identified with. He worked harder than most of us ever has, while continuing to write, write, and write some more.

It’s hard for me to believe I’d ever say that a book about writing is a page turner, but here I am saying exactly that.On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is a page turner. You want to know what example he’ll use next; what nugget of wisdom he will share. You want to see if you are already doing things King mentions and give yourself kudos for it, while telling King he’s wrong about the things you disagree with, but know he’s correct all the same.

King is the antithesis of what so many point to in regards to classic writing, but he’s not really. He still tells tales in that big epic manner while doing so in a modern fast paced way that holds attention. How can you read his books in one sitting? People do it.

Every book is a classroom. You either learn how to write or how not to write. King is the classic read-as-much-as-possible writer. He’s read more books than I’ve heard scanned the titles of and that’s something that needs to change, and I’m doing so.

I recommend Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft to anyone who is or wants to be a writer. The sooner you read it in your career the better. Why waste time doing things the wrong way when we have help out there telling us the right way?Writing the breakout novel by Donald Maass

My next book on writing to speak about will be Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. I started it quite some time ago, but it’s not quite the page turner like King’s. It’s not meant to be, but it does have its merits and I’ve used what Maass said in my debut novel that has pretty good ratings so far. Until next time;

“Read Great to Write Greater.”-Ronovan


by Ronovan Hester

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HONESTY: The Best Policy?

Stephen King on Writing“As with all other aspects of fiction, the key to writing good dialogue is honesty. And if you are honest about the words coming out of your characters’ mouth, you’ll find that you’ve let yourself in for a fair amount of criticism.” Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft, Page 217

Stephen King’s book On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft is considered a must by many in the profession. The quote above continues on about how King receives mail at least once a week calling him all sorts of names because of what his characters say. A lot of people confuse what a character believes with what an author believes.

Believe me when I say, that if I have a character murder someone, I don’t believe in people murdering people. I want that on the record. Oddly, I imagine King has rarely been called a murderer.

The dialogue he’s referring to are defamatory, degrading, and profanity filled. I agree that authors need to have their characters speak honestly. Here comes the hard part. Through which pair of eyes and ears are we listening with?

King believes, or at least notes that even the good little Christians will say the expletives when faced with things such as that smashing of the thumb with the hammer scenario, unless it’s an old maid aunt. I’ve never been called an old maid aunt before. Then again I was only hit in the eye with a fast ball by my son. The only thing I said was “Ow!” and “Gosh!”.

You see, my habits of life are to not use certain words in thoughts and conversation. What this in turn creates is a creative environment of ‘clean’ dialogue. Strangely, the no profanity doesn’t seem to come out as dishonest to people.

How can this be? If you create the setting, the world, and use the proper sentence structure, you don’t need certain words to convey certain emotions. I’m not saying a writer shouldn’t use profanity or whatever else they want to, but I wanted to point out that King doesn’t have it perfectly right, and he would probably be the first one to tell you that. His book is very good and he doesn’t profess to be the end all be all of writing. I think that, and his own honesty of life and experience is what makes this book one of the Top 5 books on writing people recommend.

Honesty is what every book must have in order to be an honest success. Have you read a book and then suddenly there is this scene that makes no sense? It’s an obvious insert. Someone decided the book needed that scene. Hopefully the rest of the book is strong enough to overcome an obvious veering away from a character’s portrayal to that point.

If you are an organic writer, like I am, your characters write your books. You tell them that you want them to arrive in the Bahamas by the winter of 1705-06 but you leave it to them how to get there. Along the way the characters you wanted as good guys end up being less than likeable and some even end up dead. That’s honesty.

I know sometimes you read a book that’s a success and it is so dishonest you want your money back although it was a free download for three days only. It makes you wonder if you are doing it all wrong. The question is, do you want to live with yourself, hold that book up to the world and say you wrote it?

Profanity or not, honesty or not, and what honesty of dialogue means is up to you. My advice is to be honest, whatever that means to you.

Honsety: The Best Policy? Image


Ronovan Hester


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