July 6, 2013
As I continue reading Stephen King’s On Writing, he discusses the dictum about “write about what you know” (153). He jokingly says that that advice sounds good unless you are writing about killing your wife and putting her in the wood chipper.
In the LMWP, on one of the first days, we were asked to make a list of things/activities that we knew. I have drawn from that list frequently as I was trying to write my 30 minutes a day and for my writing afternoons. I have been writing about my childhood, my twin, parenting, and aging. So I guess for his above example, if you are married and have worked a wood chipper, you can probably figure out the rest!
On page 155, he quotes his first agent who quoted Alfred Bester, who said, “The book is the boss.” He goes on to discuss how the story and plot are different and how he seldom deals with the plot, just he story. Amazingly to me, he says he is often surprised by the plots of his own books. He says the characters reveal themselves as he writes. He tells how he thought of the idea (through a dream on an airplane) for his story Misery and how the plot and characters turned out differently than he first imagined. Interesting stuff.
July 7, 2013
Today what I read on King discussed writing about a locale. He goes through the brainstorming he would do if her were writing about Palm Two, a restaurant he frequents. He lists four details and then writes a little scene using those. He then discusses the details, the fact and fiction of them, and where he chose to add and delete and his purposes. It is very well done and easy to follow. It would be a good exercise to do with students as well. (See pages 172-176.)
He also discusses the use of similes. In his example, he uses a couple of rather common ones and then discusses why/how they fit his purpose. He then gives poor example and good ones. I like that he says the poor ones often come for a lack of reading.
He continues on about writing dialogue, which I find rather difficult. He gives several tips, but I still think some people have more of a talent for it. Again, he uses poignant examples. (Wouldn’t you hate to be one of his poor examples?) He says dialogue builds character. Then he has an interesting conversation about honesty, which is really about swearing and sexual language. For language to be honest, it must be honest, even if it doesn’t pass the “Legion of Decency” (185). He admits that even his mother, who thought profanity was “the language of the ignorant,” would yell “Oh shit!” if she burned a roast (185).