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Stephen King's 'On Writing'

(25 Posts)
MacaroonMama Sun 21-May-17 11:33:17

I usually lurk but found this book in the library and - well, it's brilliant, isn't it? I've got a BA in English, and an MA in Creative and Life Writing, have piddled around teaching and having babies since then with no time/head space for writing, feeling totally blocked and a bit mournful - and have just read this and thought "By God, I can write!"

Have you read it? Did it change your approach to writing? The 'finding story fossils' thing, and the writing with the door closed before you do anything else, did that work?

I feel inspired. I know I have the hard bit to come, the actual knuckling down and writing, but I feel like it is not impossible any more.

Did anyone else really like this book or find it inspired them to write differently? I'd love to hear how.

GetAHaircutCarl Sun 21-May-17 15:09:18

I rate On Writing and often recommend it, not least for the eclectic list of novels King recommends as worth a read.

Did it change my writing life? No. But I found my process before I found On Writing.

ImperialBlether Sun 21-May-17 15:14:32

I read it when I'd started writing, but I have friends who read it first, then thought they'd write a novel. I enjoyed it but there are other books I preferred, tbh.

Abra1d Sun 21-May-17 15:15:26

It is the one book pretty well all writers I know have read. Lots of good advice and very down to earth.

MacaroonMama Sun 21-May-17 18:55:24

Thank you for your replies, all.

Imperial what other books did you like? I have read quite a few but not for years.

When the baby napped this afternoon, I tried to pin down the story that has been swishing around my mind for years, and I feel I have a better handle on it now.

I think I feel a bit more empowered to write and not give any time to the doubts!

southeastdweller Sun 21-May-17 19:01:53

Following with interest as I've recently got my writing mojo back and bought this last week. Many people I know have raved about it.

ImperialBlether Sun 21-May-17 19:46:16

Seven Basic Plots is a really great book - one to order from the library due to the cost, though.

This Creative Writing Coursebook was very useful to me, too.

This Open University book might be useful - it's free anyway, so no loss!

From Pitch to Publication by Carole Blake is considered very good. She was an agent for decades until she died recently.

GetAHaircutCarl Sun 21-May-17 20:09:47

One I really like is Story by Robert McKee.
It's meant for screen writing but every lesson is equally applicable to novel writing IMVHO.

That said, I am a firm believer of just learning from writing. Write, learn, write, learn. Rinse and repeat.

Abra1d Sun 21-May-17 20:18:53

I was going to mention STORY too.

GetAHaircutCarl Sun 21-May-17 20:22:11

I re-read it every year before I start the new book. My copy is dogeared and stained.

ImperialBlether Sun 21-May-17 20:29:12

@GetAHaircutCarl, that book only seems to be available on Audible. Do you know if it's available in paperback still?

GetAHaircutCarl Sun 21-May-17 20:30:47

Ooh I don't. I bought it yonks ago.

I'd be surprised if it wasn't still industry standard for screen writing.

Mumchance Mon 22-May-17 17:15:54

I like Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King.

HumphreyCobblers Mon 22-May-17 17:20:47

I love that book even though I am not a writer and have no aspirations to write anything.

Ezzie29 Mon 22-May-17 17:41:20

I have just bought this, yesterday, and I'm waiting for it to arrive. Have also got the creative writing coursebook but not started it yet, will check out the others mentioned.

MacaroonMama Mon 22-May-17 19:32:54

Thank you for all the suggestions! I do know that really I just have sit down and write the damned thing, but I love thinking about it too... The whole process. Thanks again, lots to read!

GetAHaircutCarl Mon 22-May-17 19:35:21

I think enjoying the process is important as writers have little control over what happens to the end product.

That said, part of the process must be to end up with a product.

Abra1d Tue 23-May-17 07:52:50

Yes, the Browne book is great too, for the more nuts and bolts/less developmental editing. A classic resource.

Diamonddealeroncemore Tue 23-May-17 19:52:46

I'm just reading the Stephen King book having had it for ages but I haven't yet got to a point that's made me open my eyes. I'm about 1/3 through.
I've never considered that I can't write though, I've always believed in myself as far as my writing abilities go even though I'm lacking in self confidence in almost every other area of my life.

Diamonddealeroncemore Tue 23-May-17 19:55:32

Oh and Save The Cat by Blake Snyder is also very good, another book that's about screen writing but very relevant to fiction writing.

Willow2017 Tue 23-May-17 21:26:35

I have read it 3 times and I am not even a writer😀

I love it, love his descriptions of the process, his anecdotes and his style of writing.

I would love to have had the pateince and talent to write. I love books.

So jealous of you all.😀

Ezzie29 Tue 23-May-17 22:13:11

My little old lady posing by the book which arrived today. Really looking forward to starting it tomorrow.

Madhairday Wed 24-May-17 09:08:45

I really like On Writing. I found his autobiographical section pretty interested but liked the getting down to it bit even more. Stephen King taught me a lot about adverb slaying and austerity in writing.

Also like self editing for fiction writers - used that to go through my draft and found it hugely helpful. Have the Creative Writing coursebook which I've not read yet but does look good.

GetAHaircutCarl Wed 24-May-17 09:10:38

diamond I think many screen writing books are hugely helpful to novelists.

Their adherence to structure is a lesson many novelists would do well to learn.

So much writing goes nowhere without a proper structure. Great characters, great plot, great setting, great word use; all bloody pointless without a workable structure.

MacaroonMama Sun 28-May-17 19:55:18

I've just listened to the first five/ten mins of Story by Robert McKee on Amazon. An 'Audible sample'. Very good! He stresses " a good story, well told" - I don't think I have either! I am tempted to do the free trial though, just for this book, as it was very thought-provoking and funny.
Plus I remember things better in someone else's accent.

Haircut thank you for making the point about structure. I get so worried about coming up with a plot that I quite forget about structure being something different. Plot can almost take a backseat, can't it, if structure is good? (And characterisation and writing solid, of course).

I may also try that Seven Basic Plots (though my library fines are so huge I am avoiding it for the moment 😳)

How are people getting on with the Stephen King? I've finished it. I want to read Carrie again! Read loads of his as a teenager but am interested in rereading.

I am also now considering dropping the thing I have been writing on and off for ages (what Robert McKee would call 'the personal story, badly written') in favour of something about modern witches. Thought I am aware that I will need more than that for a good story well told!

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