Here are five quotes from Stephen King’s book, On Writing. Followed by my thoughts on them.
1. “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
And, it is. Cluttering up one’s writing with adverbs is an easy way to up word count, but a lousy way to put the imagination in the reader’s mind. Instead of saying someone “ran easily” – consider that they “loped.” That is a much clearer visual for the reader, and adds depth to the scene.
2. “The scariest moment is always just before you start.”
Yes, indeed! Once you begin telling the story, you are “in it.” And once you are “in it” you’re more likely to want to get through it!
3. “Bad writing is more than a matter of shit syntax and faulty observation; bad writing usually arises from a stubborn refusal to tell stories about what people actually do — to face the fact, let us say, that murderers sometimes help old ladies cross the street.”
A good writer knows their characters inside and out. And no character should be one dimensional. Good writers know exactly what their characters will do — so much so that when they’re in tune with those characters, the characters will practically write the scenes for you. Once I stubbornly tried to make a character do what “I” wanted them to do and the story stopped working. When I stopped to think about what that character would actually do, it made the story go in a completely different, but absolutely right direction!
4. “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered.”
It goes without saying, that truth-telling in books can make a lot of people uncomfortable. But, an honest story is worth their discomfort. The truth will out! Besides, polite society can be less than exciting.
5. “The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor.”
Yes. Yes. Yes. A writer is a reader. That’s the beginning and end of that story. Good books, bad books, fiction, non-fiction — Read. Read. Read. I believe I have learned just as much, if not more, about writing from reading a poorly written book than I have from just about any other kind.
I hope you are having a great Friday! And that your writing (and/or reading) is taking you places you’ve been longing to go!