Photo: February 24th, 2007, New York Comicon, Stephen King, by Pinguino.
Stephen King’s Tips for Writing
Stephen Edwin King was born in Portland, Maine, on September 21st, 1947 to Donald Edwin Pollock King and Nellie Ruth (Pillsbury) King. His older brother is David King. When they were small, his father went out to the store one day and never returned, leaving Nellie to raise the boys alone. King was raised a Methodist and is still religious. As a small child, King may have witnessed his friend killed by a train. He left to play and returned alone, in a state of quiet shock. It was only later that day his family learned the boy he’d left with had been killed. King does not recall this event.
King sold his first story in 1967. King’s first novel, “Carrie”, was accepted by Doubleday in 1973. In 1974, his mother died of uterine cancer and he moved to Boulder, Colorado where he wrote “The Shining”. In 1975 they returned to Maine and King wrote “The Stand”. King is considered the modern King of Horror, having won well over a dozen awards and having won the Bram Stoker Award fifteen times and the British Fantasy Award six times. He has published fifty four novels and nearly two hundred short stories.
King is married to Tabitha (Spruce) King. They have three adult children: Naomi Ruth, Joe, and Owen King.
1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “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 passive voice. “Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe.”
3. Avoid adverbs. “The adverb is not your friend.”
4. Avoid adverbs, especially after “he said” and “she said.”
5. But don’t obsess over perfect grammar. “The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story.”
6. The magic is in you. “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.”
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 about making other people happy. “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”
9. Turn off the TV. “TV—while working out or anywhere else—really is about the last thing an aspiring writer needs.”
10. You have three months. “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. “I stayed physical healthy, and I stayed married.”
12. Write one word at a time. “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 distraction. “There’s should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or videogames for you to fool around with.”
14. Stick to 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. Dig. “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. Take a break. “You’ll find reading your book over after a six-week layoff to be a strange, often exhilarating experience.”
17. Leave out the boring parts and kill your darlings. “(kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.)”
18. The research shouldn’t overshadow 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. You become a writer simply by reading and writing. “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. Writing is about getting happy. “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.”
“Read and write four to six hours a day. If you cannot find the time for that, you can’t expect to become a good writer.”
“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.”