Posts filed under 'How-to'

“On Writing” by Stephen King and “Extraordinary Short Story Writing” by Steven Otfinoski

Happily, here at Colony High there are several of you who are interested in creative writing. Here are two books I’ve read recently that I think are very helpful for the emerging creative writer.

“On Writing” by Stephen King

Stephen King has had more success than nearly any fiction writer who has ever lived—and that’s saying a lot. I wondered if his advice would be any good—I mean, after all, didn’t he just arrive at stardom and hang out there ever since? So I was happy to find that he has a lot of sound recommendations. Although every one of his books has been a bestseller, it took him a while—and many rejections of shorter work—before his career took off.

“On Writing” starts by telling of memorable incidences in King’s life. This helps us understand how he comes up with some of his ideas, but some are just based on dreams or his creative imagination. After discussing some useful rules of writing, King again discusses his life and the accident that nearly ended it. (An aside: although it isn’t the most important rule, I loved King’s diatribe about adverbs and how you should never, ever use them. I wondered about fans of “Twilight.” I just read it and though I can see why it’s popular, the author’s use of adverbs drove me crazy! The main character does everything ‘incredulously’—which detracts rather than adds to the description.)

The claim on the book jacket that “On Writing” is “friendly and inspiring” is true—so try it as you work toward your creative writing goals.

“Extraordinary Short Story Writing” by Steven Otfinoski

Here’s a fun book written especially for high school students. As I mentioned of Stephen King, most writers have short works published before they can get anyone to seriously look at their novels. Agents will often want to see publication credits, even if those credits are from very small magazines.

“Extraordinary” covers the story process (ideas, outlining, first drafts, and revision) and includes how-to mini-guides (humor, suspense and mystery, science fiction and fantasy, and historical). Try out some of the exercises. Work those creative writing muscles!

December 1, 2008


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