“On Writing”, a post script

Earlier, I wrote about my efforts to solve a problem I was having with my writing. That problem, the suggestion that I should ‘show’ more and ‘tell’ less, has haunted me for some time now. On the suggestions of several fellow writers, I got hold of a copy of Stephen King’s “On Writing” and set about reading it.

It took me slightly less than a week’s worth of intermittent reading to get through Mr. King’s work, and having finished it, I can make several observations. One is that my earlier statement that “On Writing” contains 101 pages of Stephen King telling us about his life is wrong…it’s actually 128 pages. When you step back and realize that, at a total page count of 288, Mr. King devotes nearly half of his work to telling the reader about himself, that does not promise a lot of revelations on the actual craft of writing.

The book doesn’t do anything to disappoint that assessment.

Oh, it’s a decent read, and there are several nice tips in it, but for the real nuts-and-bolts of taking an idea and shaping it into a finished novel, it leaves a lot to be desired. King even admits as much towards the end, so I’ll give him credit for honesty (he is also honest enough to admit he might have gone a bit overboard on the ‘life story’ aspect of the book). But beyond learning that like me, King doesn’t outline, and that he listens to his characters and tries to write their story, not his, I didn’t learn a lot.

I won’t say don’t read it, because as I said, it is a decent read. But if you want to learn how to solve any problems you’ve found in your writing, look elsewhere.

So….sometime next week, I’ll be moving on to another tome on writing suggested to me, “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers”. I hope this book will help me both see what I am screwing up, and how to best correct the problem.

What can I say, hope spring eternal.

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