Stephen King On Writing

By | October 18, 2013 at 4:36 pm | No comments | Blog | Tags: , , , ,

On October 24th, 2013 PEN Canada will host Stephen King on the opening night of the 34th International Festival of Authors. King will discuss the writing life with his son and fellow author, Owen King. The conversation will be moderated by bestselling suspense writer, Andrew Pyper. 

In anticipation of the event, we have chosen our favourite quotes from Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing, where he offers his advice to writers.  On Writing is a short book, since according to King, “most books about writing are filled with bullshit.” In this spirit, we’ve condensed his advice to these 5 essentials.

5 writing tips from Stephen King

...most books about writing are filled with bullshit – Stephen King

1. Read more than you write
Stephen King opens On Writing with this piece of advice: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things, read a lot and write a lot.” He reads about 80 books every year — not to study the craft, but solely for the love of reading.

2. Read bad books
King thinks it’s important to recognize why some writing is bad. “Every book you pick up has its own lesson or lessons, and quite often the bad books have more to teach you than the good ones.”

3. Use plain language
A broad and eloquent vocabulary can be indispensable to a writer. However, the most appropriate words are often the simpler ones. “Make yourself a solemn promise right now that you’ll never use ‘emolument’ when you mean ‘tip’ and you’ll never say John stopped long enough to perform an act of excretion when you mean John stopped long enough to take a shit.”

4. Inspiration is everywhere
Stephen King doesn’t collect story ideas and then slowly churns them out in books. The best ideas seem to come to him out of nowhere. “Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they come,” King writes. His first short story, Happy Stamps, was written after watching his mother run out of stamps while packaging a lamp to send to his sister.

5. Be brave, be bold
At PEN, brave and bold writing often refers to writers speaking out against injustices. But here, Stephen King talks about the everyday courage it takes to write. King says, “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 behaviour.”

Double Feature: An Evening with Stephen King and Owen King will take place Thursday, October 24, 2013 8 p.m. at Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre. 

All proceeds will go to PEN Canada as part of the annual PEN Canada Benefit at the International Festival of Authors.

You can follow the conversation online or tweet your questions for the authors to @PENCanada using the hashtag #2xKing

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