On Writing…

Once upon a time, Novroz recommended me a book when she knew that I wanted to be a writer. It was On Writing by Stephen King. I wasn’t sold at first, mainly because horror has never been my thing and King is, like, the master of that genre. But she finally managed to convince me when she said that the book was actually about his advice and insights on writing. So asked her to lend me.

And boy, did I regret it like hell!

Why? Because the book is so damn great, I don’t think I’d ever want to part with it !!!! And this is coming from a non Stephen King fan, mind you! This book is A TREASURE for all aspiring writers out there, regardless of your writing’s genres. I had to contain myself from sticking post-it on every little memorable phrases or pharagraphs I could find – and believe me, there were PLENTY! – because the book is not mine.

So I’d like to thank you, Novroz, for giving me the opportunity of discovering this amazing piece of work, and sorry, for planning on not returning it 🙂

Here are some of the memorable quotes from the book. There are more, trust me. You just gotta read it for yourself.

“When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuffs starts out being just for you but then it goes out. Once you know what the story is and get it right –as right as you can, anyway – it belongs to anyone who wants to read it. Or criticize it. If you’re very lucky, more will want to do the former than the latter.”

“There were times – especially in summer, while swallowing my afternoon salt-pill – when it occured to me that I was simply repeating my mother’s life. Usually this thought struck me as funny. But if I happened to be tired, or if there were extra bills to pay and no money to pay them with, it seemed awful. I’d think This isn’t the way our lives are supposed to be going. Then I’d think Half the world has the same idea.”

“Writing is a lonely job, Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing it usually enough.”

“American grammar doesn’t have the sturdiness of British grammar (a British advertising man with a proper education can make magazine copy for ribbed condoms sound like the Magna goddamn Carta), but it has its own scruffy charm.”

“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 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?”

“Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affectation. Affectation itself, beginning with the need to define some sorts of writing as ‘good’ and other sorts as ‘bad’, is fearful behavior.”

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

“Talent renders the whole idea of rehearsal meaningless; when you find something at which you are talented, you do it (whatever it is) until your fingers bleed or your eyes are ready to fall out of your head. Even when no one is listening (or reading, or watching), every outing is a bravura performance, because you as the creator are happy. Perhaps even ecstatic.”

“If God gives you something you can do, why in God’s name wouldn’t you do it?”

“My mother, God rest her, didn’t approve of profanity or any such talk; she called it ‘the language of the ignorant’. This did not, however, keep her from yelling ‘Oh shit!’ if she burned the roast or nailed her thumb a good one while hammering a picture-hook in the wall.”

“It’s also important to remember that no one is ‘the bad guy’ or ‘the best friend’ or ‘the whore with a heart of gold’ in real life; in real life we each of us regard ourselves as the main character, the protagonist, the big cheese; the camera is on us, baby. If you can bring this attitude into your fiction, you may not find it easier to create brilliant characters, but it will be harder for you to create the sort of one-dimensional dopes that populate so much pop fiction.”

“Someone  – I can’t remember who, for the life of me – once wrote that all novels are really letters aimed at one person. As it happens, I believe this. I think that every novelist has a single ideal reader; that a various points during the composition of a story, the writer is thinking, ‘I wonder what he/she will think when he/she reads this part?’.”

“You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.”

“When a novelist is challenged on something he likes – one of his darlings – the first two words out of his mouth are almost always Yeah but.”

“Do you need someone to make you a paper badge with the word WRITER on it before you can believe you are one? God, I hope not.”

“Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life.”

“The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”

Seriously guys, READ THIS BOOK!!!! You won’t regret it!

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Novroz
    May 21, 2011 @ 08:23:41

    Those are great quotes 😉

    Ehm…when can we meet, you need to return that book *serious face*

    Reply

  2. Trackback: On Writing « Polychrome Interest

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