Without a doubt, Stephen King is one of the most prolific authors of the past few decades. And you know what? I’ve never read a single book of his. Not a one. His genre of writing doesn’t appeal to me, but his advice concerning writing is stellar, and I *almost* always use it. I’m tempted to pick up one of his books and read it just to see how great he writes, but then I’ll be laden with horrific nightmares, sleepless nights, and a frightful sensation that someone is watching me. I’m a wimp, and I know it. I get the same way after I’ve seen a scary movie.
The first horror movie I ever saw was The Shining. Ironic, isn’t it? I was traumatized. Then we watched Pet Cemetery (against my will). I never looked at my cat the same way again. *Shudder* Now I never watch scary movies. I’m too big of a baby, and I’m absolutely fine with it. Sorry for the veer off topic. Back to Stephen.
One of his more popular quotes on writing leaves me squirming and sweating on my overflowing, chocolate brown, microfiber couch/desk/dream station.
Yeesh!!! Dang, Stephen, you’re harsh.
Now, I’m sure we have to put this in context. He writes horror books, mostly. So, of course, killing people off is essential to plot and anticipation and suspense. I think, though, if I put his advice in the context of editing, then it makes complete sense.
I’ve been in the throes of editing for the past week with my middle grade fantasy series, heavily tearing out all unnecessary parts of my first book. It started out over 120,000 words a year ago, and with each rewrite, edit, revision, etc, it gets shorter and cleaner, but some of the parts I’m removing really is like opening a vein and letting all the lifeblood of my dreams stream forth.
There are little quotes from characters, a delicious description that I love, backstory, etc, that makes me want to giggle and screech and smile so wide everybody would think I was up to something evil.
But in the process of removing the extraneous fluff (whimper), it really has streamlined the text, and if a future editor feels I’m missing something, I’ll always have it in my back pocket to insert into the story. *Dance for joy!*
And he’s right that it breaks my little egocentric scribbler’s heart to do it. I hate doing it. Absolutely loathe it. But I have to admit that he’s right, dang it, and my book is only getting better. The problem is that it started over 400 pages long, and it’s taking me a long time to muddle through what should and should not be included. I’m impatient. I’ve been editing this beast (I say with love) for over a year, and I want it to be done already!
But you know what? I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% happy with it. J.R.R. Tolkien said he wished he could have rewritten his masterpiece at least one more time before it was published, but it didn’t happen. So I guess I’m in good company.
This editing is going to drive me nutty.
On the flip side, if anyone has recommendations for a Stephen King book that won’t leave me huddling under my blankets for safety (and remember I’m a big scaredy-cat), then please share! He has such amazing things to say about writing, I feel almost ashamed that I haven’t read any of his stuff.
Thanks for visiting and happy writing! (Editing, revising, killing, killing, killing!!!)
“In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it ‘got boring,’ the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep the ball rolling.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft