Posted by: Debrah Martin | April 28, 2015

Sterling words from a startling writer

once upon a timeHave you read Stephen King’s book of words, not his books? They’re stern words indeed and I’ve been pondering how to apply them as words of wisdom as I’m writing Violation. For anyone wanting a resume, this is essentially what he says:

  1. First tell it to yourself, then make it make sense to your readers. “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.”

  2. Don’t use the passive voice – it’s exactly what it says on the tin; passive. “Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe.”

  3. Avoid adverbs – they’re unnecessary. “The adverb is not your friend.”

  4. As in 3. Avoid adverbs, especially after “he said” and “she said.”

  5. Don’t obsess over perfection. “The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story.”

  6. Be bold – if what you have to say is worth saying, simply say it. “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.”woman and books

  7. Read, read, read. ”If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

  8. Don’t worry what other people think, it’s what you think that matters. “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

  9. Ban TV. “TV—while working out or anywhere else—really is about the last thing an aspiring writer needs.”

  10. Work to a deadline – be focussed. “The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season.”

  11. There are two secrets to success; health and happiness (in one form or another). “I stayed physical healthy, and I stayed married.”

  12. boxWrite carefully – don’t rush. Consider the value of each word you’re using. “Whether it’s a vignette of a single page or an epic trilogy like ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ the work is always accomplished one word at a time.”

  13. Eliminate distractions. “There’s should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or videogames for you to fool around with.”

  14. balancing womanFind your own style. “One cannot imitate a writer’s approach to a particular genre, no matter how simple what that writer is doing may seem.”

  15. Create a firm structure as well as a take-off point. “Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible.”

  16. Always give it some distance. “You’ll find reading your book over after a six-week layoff to be a strange, often exhilarating experience.”

  17. Kill your darlings – oh, I know it’s tough! “(kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.)”

  18. The research is the background, not the story. “Remember that word back. That’s where the research belongs: as far in the background and the back story as you can get it.”

  19. Persistence and persistent practice are key. “You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.”

  20. Do it because you want to and for no other reason primarily. “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.”


    In many ways it’s sheer common sense, isn’t it? But its good to be reminded from time to time. Thanks Stephen. Back to the hard – but welcome task of writing again (with less adverbs, more intent and as much enjoyment).




Find out about all of my books on my websites:Patchwork series covers 







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