It’s my first serious read about the art of writing. I’ve heard about the book in the past from friends and I’ve been looking for a copy for quite a long time. It was published ten years ago but it was only now that I got hold of it, a borrowed copy from one of my daughter’s office mates . Who hasn’t heard of Stephen King? I remember the first two books that I’ve read several years ago, Desperation and The Regulators (under the pen name Richard Bachman. By the time I got hold of Pet Sematary and The Shining, I was afraid to read his books at night.
This is not exactly a book review but just snippets of some paragraphs which I liked from the book. I thought at first it was his autobiography, telling the reader about his childhood and how he started as a writer which you can read here. He was already married with two kids when he began on his debut novel, Carrie. It was the same book that launched him as a full-time writer.
He likens the craft of writing as a toolbox – with all the necessary accessible tools. First on the top shelf is vocabulary. And he says, “one of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed.” Next tool is grammar. Bad grammar produces bad sentences. So true, I am not a perfectionist (because no one is perfect) but I cringe every time I read bad sentence construction. He says further, “one who does grasp the rudiments of grammar finds a comforting simplicity at its heart, where there need be only nouns, the words that name, and verbs, the words that act.” He is funny at times. I was laughing out loud when he said that anyone using the phrases “That’s so cool” or “at this point in time” and “at the end of the day” should be made to stand in one corner and should be sent to bed without supper. Haha! He abhors the use of passive tense and adverbs. On the layer beneath this tool box are the three elements of a story – narration, description, and dialogue .
To sum it up, he has these to say, “good writing consist of mastering the fundamentals – vocabulary, grammar, the elements of style and then filling the third level of the toolbox with the right instruments. While it is impossible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer, and while it is equally impossible to make a greater writer out of a good one, it is possible with lots of hard work, dedication and timely help, to make a good writer out f merely a competent one.”
“Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.”
This is a remarkable book from Stephen King. Would love to read it again if I can find a copy of my own.