Tag Archives: stephen king

An Old Friend

“When fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.”

– Stephen King, ‘Salem’s Lot (p. 200)

Advertisements

Stephen King, the Opening Sentence, and a Writer’s Voice

My writer friends will appreciate this excellent piece from The Atlantic: Why Stephen King Spends ‘Months and Even Years’ Writing Opening Sentences. Whether you count yourself a King fan or not, you cannot deny that the man knows his craft. There’s good stuff to be learned here, and good stuff to be reminded of:

So an intriguing context is important, and so is style. But for me, a good opening sentence really begins with voice. You hear people talk about “voice” a lot, when I think they really just mean “style.” Voice is more than that. People come to books looking for something. But they don’t come for the story, or even for the characters. They certainly don’t come for the genre. I think readers come for the voice.

A novel’s voice is something like a singer’s – think of singers like Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan, who have no musical training but are instantly recognizable. When people pick up a Rolling Stones record, it’s because they want access to that distinctive quality. They know that voice, they love that voice, and something in them connects profoundly with it. Well, it’s the same way with books. Anyone who’s read a lot of John Sanford, for example, knows that wry, sarcastic amusing voice that’s his and his alone. Or Elmore Leonard – my god, his writing is like a fingerprint. You’d recognize him anywhere. An appealing voice achieves an intimate connection – a bond much stronger than the kind forged, intellectually, through crafted writing.

The Pet Is Embarrassed

“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 bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed.”

― Stephen King, On Writing

Any Way but Lightly

“You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair–the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.

“I’m not asking you to come reverently or unquestioningly; I’m not asking you to be politically-correct or cast aside your sense of humor (please God you have one). This isn’t a popularity contest, it’s not the moral Olympics, and it’s not church. But it’s writing, damn it, not washing the car and putting on eyeliner. If you can take it seriously, we can do business. If you can’t or won’t, it’s time for you to close the book and do something else. Wash the car, maybe.”

~ Stephen King, On Writing (pp. 106-107)