I bought this book because I remember reading once that it was a pretty good “guide” for aspiring writers. Overall, I enjoyed Mr. King’s style of writing and he gave some pretty good advice, the key points (at least the key points I found useful) of which are:
* Avoid the overuse of adverbs. Actually, cut them out whenever you can.
* Set a daily writing goal and stick to it—don’t allow yourself any breaks!
* Always remember the story comes first
* Never tell something when you can show it instead. For example, if a character is poorly educated, don’t go into a lengthy backstory; show that characteristic in his speech
* Your rewrite formula should be as such: 2nd draft = 1st draft - 10%
Now, these are some pretty good guidelines. But there are things that King kept drilling in that I don’t necessarily agree with. For example, he continues to say to not put too much description in the characters. I always envision my characters vividly in mind to the extent that I want the reader to be able to see them the way I do. The reason for my writing a story is to share with the reader what I picture in my mind—this, at least for me, involves fairly detailed descriptions. I have only to think of Ms. J.K. Rowling and her well-articulated descriptions and I see that if done well, it can be successful. In the same vein, I would say that King’s point of not focusing on plot too much is something I can not bear to do. Plot is what motivates me, excites me to write. Without giving it considerable thought, I will feel overwhelmed with my tale and begin to get dejected. Not so fun. These two things are the main pieces of wisdom I chose to pass on, but to each their own. That is, coincidentally enough, one of the main themes I got from this book: ultimately, do things YOUR way, whatever that means. Try things and experiment. You can always rewrite.
Something else I walked away from this book with was a greater sense of who Stephen King is. A father, a fiercely loyal and dedicated husband, a musician, a stubborn former drug-and-alcohol addict. These are things that make the writer feel real to me, and it’s something I value highly. Stephen King really has a great outlook on life and the craft in general, and he is someone I can definitely call a mentor.
A final thing that I got out of this work—and it’s a rather small, but prized gem—is a look into Stephen King’s books that I wasn’t familiar with before. It’s made me put them on my “To-Read” list and I’ve actually gotten about halfway through “Desperation.” So, kudos, Mr. King! And a big thanks to the little recommended reading section at the end…you know just how to feed my bookworm.