What Stephen King Taught Me

Stephan King

 

Stephen King wrote a seminal work on fantasy fiction writing—a memoir of the craft on writing by the same name: Stephen King: A memoir of the Craft – On Writing.

When I decided to write fantasy fiction, instead of just dreaming about it, I decided the best place to start would be with Stephen King. Who better to learn from but a master fiction writer?  So, I purchased his book in the year 2005, read it several times, high-lighted tantalizing concepts, tabbed with sticky writable tabs until I had outlined the entire book.  I soon learned that reading about writing, tabbing every conceivable point of interest does not necessarily create a master fiction writer or even a mediocre fiction writer.

So, I stopped reading books on writing and just started reading books I loved: Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Edgar Allen Poe, Harry Potter, Hans Christian Anderson, and so many others.  I happily read a lot of books—good, I thought, know I can start writing. Nope.  Even though I looked at the world through fantasy colored glasses, I had a terrible fear of ineptitude.  I was the student who couldn’t spell, never learned phonics, didn’t know a consonant from a vowel, and a homonym is what? Regardless, I managed to get a Bachelor’s, a Master’s, and even a PhD.  I was a competent mimic.

So, what did Stephen King teach me? Stephen King taught me how to trust my instincts when he wrote, “stories are found things, like fossils in the ground.”  “Stories”, writes King, “are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world.”  Stephen taught me to lean heavily on my intuition, my inner sense of things without the mimicking and sense of ineptitude.

Well, that’s great I thought, because I walk through this world wearing fantasy colored glasses where every nook and cranny is rich with fantastical possibilities—like magical stones, talking trees, whispering air, mumbling water, and things, like humans, who walk the earth.

 

29 thoughts on “What Stephen King Taught Me

  1. Oddly enough I was a tthe book store yesterday and picked this up. I put it down because my daughter lectured me and told me that I had a problem and should finish the 5 books I am reading now. Then I responded, “Well I could have worse habits, like drug use, I just buy too many books.” Needless to say I put the book down but I guess I am going back to buy it.

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    1. Delia, yes, you must have it! I still read it from time to time and it gives me that same excitement that says, “Stories are like fossils, so be observant of everything around you and then start digging!” K D 🙂

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      1. Delia, I know that feeling too. I buy too many books and I don’t even have time to read them right now. So, read one of the books you have and then you will be justified to buy another book!! That’s fair, I think. K D 🙂

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      2. That’s exactly how I think! They don’t buy into my justification of purchasing more books.

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  2. Stephen King is the master. When I read his books I don’t do it at night because the descriptions are so vivid I end up having nightmares…it’s amazing and scary at the same time 😱

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  3. Some of his books are terrifying because he knows how to set you right next to the blood dripping ax. I just finished reading two fiction books recommended by him. I was disappointed in both books. They were nothing like Steven King’s books although he had touted them as great thrillers. And although I thought they missed that mark, I haven’t stopped thinking about them. So I guess they did deserve his accolades.

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      1. The books were not by Steven King, but I’d read a recommendation by him for the books. I wanted to read a book that King might like. I was a bit disappointed. Disappearance at Devil’s Rock: by Paul Tremblay and Best Eaten Cold by Tony Salter

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      2. I’m not sure. No the writing was excellent. The plot and characters very well developed and linked. The ending satisfying. But the suspense wasn’t as tight or as page-turning as I expected. I think my disappointment was in my expectations. I was looking for more of a King type book.

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    1. Jennie, thank you so much for a great comment. Yes, this journey we are on as bloggers, readers, and writers is all about heart or should be. If we don’t write what is in our hearts than we are not being authentic to ourselves and to others. K D 🙂

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    1. Kim, absolutely, we must always wear our fantasy colored glasses! Stephan King’s book, “On Writing” was a turning point for me in my writing. And yes, E. B. White’s Elements of Style is next to my Stephan King’s. By the way, I love your reviews and I have learned more about what is good writing and better writing from reading your reviews. Thank you! Karen 🙂

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