Posts Tagged ‘writing’
Nora and I do not usually give each other expensive presents but I made an exception at Christmas when I bought her a Kindle. It was getting embarrassing because she kept borrowing mine and commenting on how much porn I was reading.
I asked her all through January and February, “Have you used your Kindle yet?”
“No, I’ve been too busy.”
“Too busy even for my shorter stories?”
“I haven’t figured out how to download any yet. What I want to read isn’t on the Kindle.”
She was reading the letters of the Mitford sisters. It was taking her an age. So in March I stopped asking. I never expected that in April she would go behind my back and figure out how to download Fifty Shades Darker. A paid version. Not like the free Fifty Shades of Grey I gave her.
“I hope you’re not becoming addicted to bad writing,” I told her.
“Is it bad writing?” she asked innocently.
“Susan Hill says so.”
“She’s an English novelist. She says women who read it should be ashamed of themselves. It’s not just porn. It’s badly-written porn.”
“I don’t think anyone should feel ashamed. All women have desires. But the sex in this one isn’t arousing anymore.”
“What? You’ve grown tired of it already? You need something more hardcore now?”
“Well, it’s like in a horror film that starts off with a very scary image. But then you keep on seeing it and it stops being scary.”
“Isn’t it also because it’s badly written?”
“No, I don’t think it’s badly written. Well, I can’t judge. I can’t write English. I can’t write a sex scene. I can do it but I can’t write it. How do you write it without repeating any words?”
“But you’re still enjoying it?”
“I enjoyed the story. I wanted to know what happened.”
“Enjoyed? Have you finished it already?”
“I’m reading the next one now.”
“I’m a very quick reader.”
“No you’re not. You were reading that Nancy Mitford book for months.”
“Well, this is different. It’s full of clichés but you want to know what happens next. Every chapter ends on a cliffhanger.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll read another of your stories eventually.”
I ran straight to my room, fell onto my bed, shoes and all, and howled. I curled up, desperately clutching my black silk blindfold, and surrendered myself to my grief.
It’s impossible to write a definitive book on writing. There’s so much to say and everybody is at a different entry point. But the first 118 pages of this book are padding and, though interesting, can be skipped. The last 65 pages are also disposable.
The meat of the book is in the middle section called Toolbox, which is about 180 pages in my edition and can be read in a few hours as there aren’t many words per page.
It’s probably not advisable to read it so quickly, though, as there is a lot of wisdom distilled into this section. If you can already write you won’t disagree with anything that Stephen King says. If you can’t write, I’m not sure it will teach you very much. But it serves as a useful reminder of things that writers should keep in mind.
Some writers will agree with it but still not follow his advice and not realise they are not following it.
Just this week I came across several aspiring writers who are happy to tell the world that they don’t have time to read and have never read much. They think it doesn’t matter because they write what they know.
Stephen King’s prime rule is: write a lot and read a lot.
If you don’t follow it, you don’t know anything.