Thursday, April 29, 2010

King Wisdom


By: Krista Darrach
I'm drowning in my personal life ... so I've decided to post some tips from Stephen King’s book On Writing ... it's loaded with insightful advice! Here are some excerpts:
Get the first draft done quickly…
I believe the first draft of a book — even a long one — should take no more than three months…Any longer and — for me, at least — the story begins to take on an odd foreign feel, like a dispatch from the Romanian Department of Public Affairs, or something broadcast on high-band shortwave duiring a period of severe sunspot activity.
On rewriting…
Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being just for you, in other words, but then it goes out. Once you know what the story is and get it right — as right as you can, anyway — it belongs to anyone who wants to read it. Or criticize it.
Second drafts can only help so much…
“A movie should be there in rough cut,” the film editor Paul Hirsch once told me. The same is true of books. I think it’s rare that incoherence or dull storytelling can be solved by something so minor as a second draft.
Formula for success: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%...
Mostly when I think of pacing, I go back to Elmore Leonard, who explained it so perfectly by saying he just left out the boring parts. This suggest cutting to speed the pace, and that’s what most of us end up having to do (kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings)...I got a scribbled comment that changed the way I rewrote my fiction once and forever. Jotted below the machine-generated signature of the editor was this mot: “Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.”
Practice isn’t painful when you love what you do…
Talent renders the whole idea of rehearsal meaningless; when you find something at which you are talented, you do it (whatever it is) until your fingers bleed or your eyes are ready to fall out of your head. Even when no one is listening (or reading, or watching), every outing is a bravura performance, because you as the creator are happy. Perhaps even ecstatic.
Some meaty detective-fiction similes…
My all time favorite similes, by the way, come from the hardboiled-detective fiction of the forties and fifties, and the literary descendants of the dime-dreadful writers. These favorites include “It was darker than a carload of assholes” (George V. Higgins) and “I lit a cigarette that tasted like a plumber’s handkerchief” (Raymond Chandler).
On writing seminars and the desire for “the right writing environment”...
In truth, I’ve found that any day’s routine interruptions and distractions don’t much hurt a work in progress and may actually help it in some ways. It is, after all, the dab of grit that seeps into an oyster’s shell that makes the pearl, not pearl-making seminars with other oysters.
What scares the master of fear…
The scariest moment is always just before you start.

5 comments:

  1. Very good advice! I remember the one about 2nd draft=1st draft-10%, but it was a good reminder, too, since I'm right at the 2nd draft rewrite point in one of my books.

    I would assume that the same rules (other than the obvious fiction ones) would apply to nonfiction as well.

    Anyway, thanks for the great post!

    Chas

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  2. ooh, thank you for the quotes. could the 2nd scariest moment be just before you start-over - as in I'm about to re-write my 2nd draft!

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  3. Thanks Krista. I needed to be reminded of these excellent rules.

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  4. Wow. thanks Krista. I relate to that last quote more than ever after having attended Storymaker's. Now I just need to get started! Immobilized by that fear!

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  5. What great quotes these are. Thank you!

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