As every aspiring writer does, I have a few books in my repertoire on the art of writing that I would recommend. One I recently discovered was Stephen King’s, On Writing, subtitled A Memoir of the Craft. I discovered it online and didn’t realize it had been out since 2000.
As the title suggests it is something of a memoir of his own life and the development of his writing, but it’s sprinkled with tidbits of tips that I find intriguing and helpful, and of course he includes some of the classic tips from others here and there, like Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style Rule 17, Chapter 2 “Elementary Principles of Composition”, “Omit needless words.”
However, King includes a couple of chapters on the craft itself tucked into the center of the book, where the meat should be. His writing on the subject is fresh and exhilarating. My copy is already riddled with underlines and there will be more the next time I read it, which I plan to do very soon.
But the idea I found most liberating in this book is that King encourages the writer not to write to plot. Write stories by writing about situations and then letting them grow is a very basic way of summing up one piece of advice he gives. This little nugget has opened my writing adventure to a whole new level of creativity. I must hasten to say I was on that track already, writing from scenes and situations that inspired me, but felt guilty. Like I was being a lazy writer because I was not sitting down to develop theme, plot, outline, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera first.
I heartily (yes, the red-headed step child of an adverb just had to pop out) recommend King’s work On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft to all writer’s, but especially to writers of fiction. Oh, and please let me know what you think of it when you’re done.