Monday, March 2, 2015

On Writing by Stephen King...

I’m sitting at my desk in the cubicle farm at work. The phone isn’t ringing and I have time to look around. The walls and floors are brown, and the lights are fluorescent in this metal building with no windows. 3 ten hour shifts a week here pushes the limits of my tolerance for voluntary submission to oppression.
I finished Stephen King’s book, On Writing. I love it. I’m sorry it ended. King wrote it 15 years ago yet it is still fresh and relevant. For me, it is revolutionary.
Earworms chanting “it is impossible to write without plotting,” had set up residence in my brain. Trouble is; I can’t plot. King wrote, “Plot is, I think, the good writer’s last resort and the dullard’s first choice.” I stared at the page, open-mouthed, as those words stomped through my brain, smashing earworms.
I almost threw out my prose pen because I wasn’t writing; paralyzed by my inability to plot.
Plot be damned.
King opts instead to put characters in situations. I can do that all day. Per King’s wisdom, I’m going to do it every day. I’m relieved because what would I do with all these characters in my head otherwise?
On Writing, is like warm oil on my paralyzed joints. I feel free to move my writing muscles again.
King’s thoughts on plotting are not the only revolutionary things in this book. I could write pages about what resonated with me or taught me something new. Instead, I urge you to read the book yourself.
I will pick up my prose pen and answer the question: What if the woman who stacks rocks found a severed head in her rock pile one morning? It sounds like a situation in a horror story but I doubt it will finish as a novel ala Stephen King since his fiction usually ends up in my nightmares.
I will face the severed head, though, because King assures me, a writer’s “…job is to make sure the muse knows where you’re going to be every day from nine ‘til noon or seven ‘til three. If he does know, I assure you that sooner or later he’ll start showing up, chomping his cigar and making his magic.”
Note to self: buy an ashtray.


  1. Oh, I love that book, too! Not surprisingly, I'm not a plotter. I never know what the plot of one of my books will be until I see what I've written.

    I tried to outline the plot of a novel once, a long time ago. Once I knew what happened, I was no longer interested in writing it. Without the surprises that come with my preferred seat-of-your-pants method, drafting bores me silly.

    Enjoy your spontaneity! :)

    1. Sure does work for you! That ARC of Big Fix I just read was wonderful!

  2. This is a wonderful reminder. I have the book on my shelf and have not read it in several years. I'll dust it off. :)
    I'm not much of a plotter, well, I should say I'm a mini plotter and I juggle all of those scenes in my head. I have a beginning and an end in mind when I start out, but when I get halfway through a new story, then I have to sharpen my focus and do some rough outlining to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.

  3. Sounds like you do enough to keep yourself on track but not so much that you kill your spontaneity.

  4. I HAVE to read that book. Plotting is my nemesis.I wrote my second novel only to be told the first forty pages are back story.The fact that it was true didn't make it any better. Limping forward wondering what needs to happen next. This helps. Thanks, Judy,

    1. :) You're welcome. If you're like me, you'll be truly fascinated by his account of how Carrie came to him and how he brought it to fruition.

  5. Plotters vs pantsers--as age old as the rocks. ;-) I was always a pantser in my youth, but it does show when I reread old books. That midpoint slump, where I kidnap someone to get things moving again. lol. So I work on plotting now. (I've only read one King full novel, The Stand. Terrible last third of the book. Needed to put a wee bit more plotting in there!)

    Elizabeth George plots the first half, and leaves the second half open.

    Some people like Lani do a first draft pantser, then reworks it using a plotting structure. Crusie, if I recall, is more of a plotter.

    Now let's see... there were a couple things I especially liked in that book, but I don't recall them. I'm sure I highlighted them! Will have to check. :-D

  6. OMG I hear you. I joined a class and PLOT was in the titlel. It wasn't until I let go of the idea of PLOT that an idea to continue in the class dawned on me.

    I tried to post there and it brought me to Misssteps and then to here.

    Maybe it's time to come home.

    1. Sorry about the delay in posting your comment. Yeah no more plotting for me. What if questions about characters in situations - that's the way I proceed now. Thank you Steven King.