Sunday, June 26, 2011

Stephen King's Advice to Writers

Many great books on writing exist, and we writers have read a lot of them. Some are intensely practical, like Dorothea Brande's Becoming a Writer. Some are more esoteric and amusing, such as Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. And some (or most) are part biography, part bragging-rights, and part actual help, like Stephen King's On Writing.

Stephen King may not be everyone's cup o' tea. He's not necessarily mine. I've read two of his books, both long ago. Salem's Lot scared the bejeebers out of me so badly during my freshman year of college that I refused to walk the campus at all. Even accompanied. Period. For about three months. I liked Skeleton Key much better. A collection of short stories, not all of which were horror, it interested and intrigued me, even if I'm not a great fan of science fiction which was the secondary genre represented.

But King has also written several articles about writing that can be immensely helpful to writers, especially for beginning writers who are seeking to be published for the first time. I ran across such an article and thought you might like to peruse it: "Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully: In Ten Minutes."

I have recently made a promise to an old friend from elementary school with whom I just re-connected on Facebook: he would read the Harry Potter series if I read King's Under the Dome. So I'm adding it to my list of books to read this summer...yes, even though it's King.

And I may pull out my copy of On Writing and give it another read. It's definitely one of the best books out there on writing. King has a gift for telling humorous stories that we rarely see within his usual horror genre, and On Writing is chock-full of such stories.

In writerly friendship,


  1. I would recommend NOT reading "Under the Dome" if you've never read Stephen King before. "Salem's Lot" is my go-to intro to King book when I'm introducing him friends. Plus, "Under the Dome" is a HUGE tome. It's very well-written, don't get me wrong, just a bit of an undertaking when first meeting Uncle Stevie.

  2. I agree that The Dome isn't your best bet. The Stand is good for its portrayal of good vs evil. I love Misery because I think its description of an obsessive fan really rings true. Rose Madder is a good story about a strong woman. But I hesitate to recommend even one of these if you're not a King fan. I recommended Misery to a friend once and he was really put off. I was going to have my book club read Rose Madder but I reread it myself first and realized that it was too gruesome. I would suggest The Stand over The Dome. But I think your best bet might actually be the first book in The Dark Tower series, The Gunslinger.
    If your friend wants you to like King he'll want you to read something you'll enjoy and not insist on The Dome.


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