On Writing

On Writing by Stephen King

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On Writing by Stephen King - Notes

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On Writing by Stephen King - Notes

Deepak Shukla’s Notes On On Writing by Stephen King – Notes:

Hey guys,

I finished reading this book on the 10th January 2021.

Here’s a synopsis of the book I grabbed from Amazon:

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And here are my actual notes I took whilst I was listening to this on Audible:

  • Non specific critiques are useless 100% of the time
  • Research is part of the backstory. Belongs in back
  • Long life stories are best received in bars and only if you are buying
  • Formula is 2nd draft = 1st draft – 10%
  • Kill your darlings (ie parts in story that get in way of pace of story)
  • The pace is speed at which story develops
  • Think of this person as being in the room with you when you write
  • IR is your old English teacher
  • That person is your ideal reader
  • Who is the one person you write for that you want to wow?
  • If several people separately say the same thing you’ve got a problem and got to do something about it
  • Once draft is finished show it to 4 people you trust that will really critique the book
  • All novels are really letters aimed at one person
  • Ultimately looking for what I meant?
  • What I want is resonance
  • Asking myself is this story coherent? What will turn coherence into a song?
  • In 6 weeks time you’ll be able to see glaring character and plot holes as well
  • Need to be so engrossed in something new that you forget what old book was about
  • Once finished. Take 2 days off then start something different for 6 weeks (write 100k words)
  • Don’t show anyone your first draft AT ALL
  • But if you write consistently (every day) enthusiasm can outrun your self-doubt if you just focus on putting words to paper
  • Writing fiction and especially long works of fiction can be a lonely job
  • The book should be minimum of 100k words
  • 2.5 drafts is how much a book should need to get it right
  • Once you basic story on paper it’s your job to ask what it means and then to adjust
  • Good fiction almost always begins with the story then progresses to a theme
  • Novelists have many interests but only a few thematic concerns powerful enough to power a novel
  • What is it I’m writing about? Why am I bothering? What got my nose down to the grindstone anyway
  • Thematic thinking is powerful for the toolbox
  • Violence as a solution woven through human history
  • Overlogic or thinking about the curve is when you have a flash or insight that brings a story together
  • In the 2nd draft, you should figure out what the book is about
  • The story is like a fossil you’re trying to unearth it was always there anyway. When you dig it up see what shape it takes
  • The only story is about story
  • Symbolism can also be simple and if you notice it in your story you should bring it out and make it shine
  • 2nd draft is where you can bring out certain patterns or themes you see more clearly
  • Remember. There are no rules you can do what you want!
  • Hemingway said you must kill your darlings and he was right

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  • Sometimes villains feel self-doubt. Sometimes heroes feel pity. Sometimes good guys act badly. Sometimes bad guys act well
  • If you create fiction every character you write ends up being partly you
  • If I have to tell you something I lose. If I can show you something. I win
  • There should be no hero or heroine or bad guy etc. We are all the stars in our own lives. So each character has colour life and vibrancy
  • But the book should never be a character study
  • King starts off stories situationally but always believe they should end up about people rather than an event
  • One of the cardinal rules in fiction never tells us a thing if you can show us instead
  • Practice your art your job is to say what you see and then get on with your story
  • Don’t ever use any clichés ever
  • Open your memory eye
  • The description that’s effective is a case of using a few carefully chosen details and leaving the rest to the imagination of the reader
  • The physical description should be kept broad so the reader can fill in the gaps
  • The description is what makes the reader a sensory participant in the story
  • A strong enough situation renders a plot irrelevant
  • Stories consist of 3 parts.
  1. The narration which moves the story from point A to point B to point z
  2. The description which creates a sensory reality for the reader
  3. And dialogue which brings characters to life through their speech
  • And write about the things you like to read
  • What are you going to write about?
  • Listen to white noise when you write
  • The door closed is to keep people out and to keep you in
  • Write 7 days a week 2,000 words a day
  • Closed-door of your writing space is all you need to write your great novels and books
  • A healthy body and stable relationship and quiet workspace are keys to success for writing regularly
  • Stephen King does 2k words per day for 90 days straight
  • Some writers produce books within 2 days
  • Should work on this same book daily and not on any other book
  • Book 1st draft should never take more than 3 months
  • Stephen King believes to be a great writer you must read + write 4-6 hours a day
  • You must read a wide range of genres of books as well as types
  • If you want to be a writer you must….
  • Literary Toolbox: Consider vocabulary – write as you literally speak
  • A farseeing place exists for all writers
  • What writing is: Telepathy
  • Put your desk In the corner and every time you sit yourself down to write remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room
  • Sometimes you’re doing good when all it feels like is you’re shovelling shit from a sitting position
  • Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it
  • Stopping a piece of work because it’s hard either emotionally or imaginatively is a bad idea
  • Learned from writing Carrie that writers perception of the main characters may be as erroneous as the readers
  • Writing is a lonely job. It’s important to have someone around who believes in you
  • Write first for yourself then write for others
  • First write with the door closed then write with the door open
  • At one stage or another, you will meet people who say your work is shit
  • Recurring motifs in books often come from your childhood memories (it IT it’s called the barrens. We called it the jungle)
  • To write is human to edit is divine
  • No writer will take 100% of editors comments
  • The editor is always right
  • Omit needless words


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