Book Review (+Tips): On Writing by Stephen King

Read from July 6th, 2018 to July 30th, 2018.
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Wow, Stephen King is so enjoyable to read, even in his nonfiction, how-to book, On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft. This is a great read for any upcoming writer. He has advice for the beginners and the veterans, but mainly for people just starting out. I would say I’m somewhere in the middle, and I felt confident to agree or disagree with some things that King said regarding topics.
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It was just a lots of fun facts about him in the memoir portion and cool ways to look at writing. I’m giving Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft a 5/5. My rating system is at the bottom of this post.
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I also wanted to share some brief tips with you from On Writing that I personally believe and recommend. Here are those writing tips:
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  1. When you’re getting started, write for yourself. You’re telling yourself a story, not anyone else. A second draft is the edited version of the first. At that point, you’re writing for everyone else and therefore taking out things that don’t have anything to do with the story/plot. Those little subtle details that have nothing to do with the story but you love so much? Throw them out.
  2. Find people who get it. You want to have at least one person by your side who believes in what you’re doing. They are half your confidence from here on out.
  3. Use the first words that come to your head. “Why use an alternative word whose only cousin is the word you really meant?” It’s okay if you’re vocabulary is sparse, you don’t have to spruce your words to get the story going.
  4. You can be as vulgar as you need to, as long as you’re characters and narrator are being honest. “Language doesn’t always wear a tie and lace-up shoes.”
  5. You have to feel the beat of your words and paragraphs and chapters. When you feel like it’s time to end a paragraph, then it’s time. Sentences don’t have to be grammatically correct. A thought.
  6. “It’s not just a question of how-to [practice writing], it’s also a question of how much to. Reading will help you answer how much, and only reams of writing will help you with the how.” Read and write every day. This shouldn’t feel like work at all.
  7. This kind of goes with number 1. The first draft, you’re getting out the story. The second draft, you’re doing a lot of things, like looking to see if you can find theme throughout the book. If you don’t, that’s fine. But if you do, don’t miss the opportunity to expand on that idea.
Hope you guys found something useful! There’s a lot more tips in the book. I imagine that your favorites will be different from mine, so go read it!
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  • My rating system stands: 5/5 is a knock out of the park; this book deserves to be read by everyone. 4/5 is, “I really liked it,” but it did have a couple of kinks. 3/5 is, “I believe there are a lot of people who would enjoy this book, but for one reason or another, it didn’t sit well with me.” 2/5 is, “I really didn’t enjoy it and I’m not going to recommend it.” 1/5 is, “no one read this – throw it in a lake.”

Where you can find my books: http://www.amazon.com/Brista-Drake/e/B00YZGC792/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/writingmime

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/writingmime/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/22704883-writingmime

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Know what these literary terms mean?

Disclaimer: Each of these words might mean something slightly different to each person, but in general these are the easiest ways to describe them!

Premise

“An assumption that something is true” is a broad definition, but in literature, one can describe a premise as a teaser. Ask a friend about a book, and they will tease you with exciting elements of the characters, plot, and/or the setting. Same with a movie trailer. If you see fast cars and explosions throughout the clip, you’ll assume that the movie will be an action/thriller. The premise of this movie is that it is an action movie with lots of cars and explosions.

Trope

My definition of trope, or the most interesting definition of a trope, comes from an essay by Rigoberto Gonzalez. A trope is “an anchor that can keep the narration coherent and even helps the writer find a way into and out of the narrative.” Although “trope” covers a range of figurative language, such as irony, metaphor, and allegory, this one is most interesting because it defines a technique that most people use, but don’t know what to call. Until now.

Say you want to write about an event, maybe a very important museum trip, but you don’t know how to start or finish your narrative. At this event, however, you remember that there was a dog always present. Start here. Go from the dog to the museum trip and then back to the dog. The dog becomes a trope for your story – something to refer to at the beginning, maybe middle, and the end of your story so that you stay organized and focused. It prevents you from going on tangents. The dog could even have parallel meaning with a theme or message that you’re trying to create.

Motif

A motif is something that keeps reappearing in your story, like a color, shape, weather, phrase, etc. The motif symbolizes progression in the story and has metaphoric value. If the dog in my pervious explanation for a trope just so happens to represent the eternal life struggle, then it’s also considered a motif. Not only does the dog have symbolism, but it also reappears throughout the story.

Here’s another motif: every time you see the color red in the movie The Sixth Sense, you know a ghost is about to appear. Red symbolized a ghost, but it also appears throughout the movie, giving hints to what’s about to happen next.

Idiom

Idioms are those neat phrases that you only understand a handful of. You know, like:

  • raining cats and dogs
  • keep the ball rolling
  • busy as a bee

Idioms are used in our language every day, but unless you know the background context from which these phrases originated from, you’re going to have trouble understanding what the other person is trying to tell you.

Idioms have to originate from somewhere. For example: “don’t jump the shark” derived from the show Happy Days when the character Fonzie jumps over a literal shark to increase television ratings. However, that episode marked the first of many where the script took an unexpected, unwelcomed turn. Saying “jumping the shark” means don’t draw attention to something in an unwarranted way.

Where you can find my books: http://www.amazon.com/Brista-Drake/e/B00YZGC792/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/writingmime

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/writingmime/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/22704883-writingmime