By Stephen King
According to Stephen King, my favorite
writer and a master storyteller, you only absolutely, positively have
to do two things to succeed as a writer:
Scribner, 288 pp, 2000
Read a lot and write a lot.
Thatís it. Everything else is fluff
and often nonsense that can just get in your way. Writerís groups,
classes, conventions are all very nice, probably wonít do any harm
(although they certainly can), but, in the end, theyíre not necessary.
Only you can write the words. Only you can tell the story. Only you can
produce the magic that is the written word.
King obviously loves the basic act of
writing words and sentences. He loves telling stories. According to him,
the story is everything. Theme, plot, mood, setting, symbolism, all are
nice but secondary. Tell your story first, and the rest will follow,
usually in the second draft.
And be honest. Be honest with yourself,
be honest with the story, and be honest with the characters. Nothing kills
a story like dishonesty. It causes mistrust with the reader. Theyíll
think youíre an idiot, a charlatan. Canít sell too many books that
How much writing is a lot? King
recommends 1,000 words per day, minimum, every day of the week. No
exceptions. Yes, it takes discipline (Iím lucky to sweat out 500 words),
but it can be done. Close the door, shut out the world, keep out the
distractions, and get to work. Pretty soon, you may surprise yourself.
Thatís the core of Kingís advice for
young writers. He also stresses the importance of correct grammar, but to
him, story is the main focus.
The rest of the book is a brief
autobiography of selected scenes from Kingís life that influenced his
writing. The anecdotes are all amusing and helpful. At the end, he
recounts in chilling detail the accident that nearly killed him.
I loved this book, but King could write
a grocery list and Iíd enjoy it. I recommend it to King fans and
aspiring writers everywhere. And for those of you who think King is just a
hack, this book will prove you wrong.