If Stephen King readers started their own country, it would have the 3rd largest population in the world. One of the most successful authors of all time, his books have sold more than 350 million copies.
If you have ever wondered how King became such a great writer, you are in luck. His book, On Writing, details his experiences with the written word and he offers advice for aspiring writers. The memoir is full of great nuggets that can help writers at any experience level.
Here are what I found to be the top 10 lines from Stephen King’s On Writing.
When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.”
Write with the door closed. Rewrite with the door open.”
One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little ashamed of your short ones.”
Fear is at the root of most bad writing – the more intense the fear the worse our writing can become.”
While it is impossible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer, and while it is equally impossible to make a great writer out of a good one, it is possible, with lots of hard work, dedication and timely help, to make a good writer out of a merely competent one.”
If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.
John Grisham, of course, knows lawyers. What you know makes you unique in some other way. Be brave. Map the enemy’s position, come back, tell us all you know.”
Dialogue is a skill best learned by people who enjoy talking to others — particularly listening, picking up accents, rhythms, dialects, and slang of various groups.”
Shit, write upside down if you want to, or do it in Crayola pictographs. But no matter how you do it, there comes a point when you must judge what you’ve written and how well you wrote it. I don’t believe a story or a novel should be allowed outside the door of your study or writing room unless you feel confident that it’s reasonably reader-friendly.”
Let’s get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”