Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On Writing: Some Shining Bits of Advice

Right now I am seated on my billowy, purple couch reading On Writing, by Stephen King, courtesy of my newly re-floored,  public library. (I had to squeeze in the comment about the new floors in the library because:


a) the previous red carpet was killin' me!
b) I really don't have a life outside of my kids, Target and the library.;))

I thought I would take a break to share my two favorite excerpts from the reading so far.

On where ideas come from, King says:

 "There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn't to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up."

And on  the overuse of passive voice, which according to the King is due to the timidity of the writer:

"Two pages of the passive voice- just about any business document ever written, in other words, not to mention reams of bad fiction- make me want to scream. It's weak, it's circuitous, and it's frequently tortuous, as well. How about this: My first kiss will always be recalled by me as how my romance with Shayna was begun.  Oh, man- who farted, right?"

Now don't you just feel enlightened? :)

24 comments:

  1. I confess I haven't read many craft books, but of the ones I have read, "On Writing is my tops! That dude has a life!

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    1. Good to know Joanna! I can't wait to devour the rest of the book this week. He does have quite a life. I loved the way the ideas for Carrie were formed. Super interesting. :)

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  2. Hahahaha! Thank you of sharing! I cannot believe I haven't read this book yet, but one of these days I'm just going to have to!

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    1. It is really interesting so far. I have always wondered about this man's imagination. I feel slightly bad for including the word "fart" in my post...I mean it is just so risque, but the line cracked me up when I read it initially. It was too good not to share. :)

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  3. Great book. Never knew he had this type of personality. It's a fun read.

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  4. We love the fart line! I also like how he describes ideas. It's true that ideas really are out there but turning them into stories is the challenge. Often when I am struggling with one manuscript, that is when a better idea pops to mind- and I run with that one. I'd be interested in reading the book too.

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    1. He has some great and poetic ways of describing the craft... And FART is one of them! I loved the idea description too of course. :)

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  5. Well, this book just moved up on my list :~D

    LOL! "Fart" is so much more poetic than if Stephen would have said "It stinks."

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    1. So glad the fart line motivated you Lori. It is quite poetic isn't it? :)

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  6. Yup, you sold me on the book too. A little flatulance never hurt anyone!

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    1. If only he had put these two excerpts on the jacket flap! He could have attracted some real attention! :)

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    2. Yes - let that be a lesson to all those little-known authors out there who publish how-to books that then vanish into obscurity....

      (You can't HEAR my choking giggling, but believe me, it's implied. Elizabeth, thou wit... :) )

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  7. I never had any interest in that book, but suddenly it seems like it's time to float that thing into my Kindle and see what's up.... Thanks.

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  8. I read his book many years ago before I wanted to write and loved it. Time to open it up again and take notes this time. Thanks for posting!!

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    1. It is a great book for note-taking! Thanks so much for your comment!

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  9. I admit I read part of my library's copy in the bathtub, and while I frown upon the practice (when I am speaking to the kids!) it was the best tub-time fun I've had since I was a kid! I've never read anything else he has written, but I should!

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    1. Julie, just my .02, but I was amazed how much I loved "On Writing" - and I'm not a fan of King's long-form (long, long, long form) horror stories... but the man is the second best short-fiction writer alive today. IMHO. (First is Alice Munro.) Enjoy!

      NotAnonymously,
      Melissa Kelley

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    2. Ohhhh....bathtime fun!

      If it makes you feel any better, my library copy has a huge coffee stain on page 51, which serves as a huge source of guilt for me. But how could I know my son would launch from the seat next to me onto my lap? =)

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  10. Great post, Elizabeth! I've heard that's a good book - I'm putting it on my list!

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    1. Yay! Thanks Lori!I am really enjoying it. =)

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