Thursday, April 5, 2012

#11 Came Up a Little... Short

The novel did tend to get dry in a few places, I will admit. Some stories, as well as story transitions/filler stories made me feel like he was just trying  to get to one point to another. However, there were only a few of these instances, so it is not too much of a complaint.
Also, when he was going through the explanation of some writing techniques, it almost felt... textbook. Yet only in a few areas; again this is only a small complaint.
Other than that, the book was a perfectly fine read.

#10 Giving Some Sugar

What I loved most about this book was that it was very entertaining to read, as well as helpful. The novel read like any other Stephen King novel, meaning that it was a fast read that held my attention for the entirety of the novel. In the aspect of being helpful, it gave me hints and tips that could help me in my future as a fiction writer. Whether it'd be writing scripts or writing a novel series, Steven King's words will surely be ringing throughout my head as I type up the manuscripts for my stories.

#9 The Big Idea

The main theme of this novel was simply "do what you do best".
Stephen King explains is life and used many examples of how he did what he felt was right. Also, he starts off his writing portion with his belief that not everyone can be a good writer, but if that is what one wants to be, then they are going to need a lot of practice.

#8 Comparing and Constrating the Master of Comedy to the King of Horror

The last novel I read was Born Standing Up by Steve Martin. It was an autobiography of Steve Martin, and it included entertaining events about his childhood, as well as the life story of his career in entertainment.

Compared to On Writing, both books were entertaining. In fact, they must have been the most entertaining non-fiction books that I have ever read. Steve Martin's book made me feel like I was reading a movie (if that makes any sense) and Stephen King's book was just as entertaining to read as any of his other novels.

In contrast, Stephen's book was not just autobiography, but also a writing guide. And as a student who has many ideas for novels or movies, the writing portion of the book is more beneficial to me than Steven Martin's "just-a-biography" novel. Though I want to entertain people, reading about Steven Martin's career doesn't help me because most of the places that he preformed at as a child either changed dramatically or had been shut down for quite sometime.

#7 Incidently...

One major event in the book takes place in Stephen's childhood;
Stephen had sent in his first original story, titled Happy Stamps, into a magazine called Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. The story came back three weeks later with the signature red ink of the the magazine's printing press and a letter that politely told Stephen that his story had been rejected but that he should keep writing. Along with the letter came a note that read "Don't staple manuscripts, loose pages plus paperclip equal correct way to submit copy".  Though this little tidbit of advice was nothing but informatory, Stephen had followed these words with his heart and has never stapled a manuscript since. This rejection slip was one of the first to come Stephen's way, and it certainly was not the last. Yet it was the sort of encouragement that he needed to perfect this craft.

Another major event also takes place in King's past; his first published novel Carrie. A good portion of his autobiography is dedicated the process of writing and publishing Carrie, as well as the before and after of King's life during the whole ordeal. He and his wife were struggling to make end's meet and keep their family afloat. King's life while he was writing the story was less than glamorous, however it gained such status after the novel was published. Same with when the book was being adapted into a movie.

The final event that is significant in Stephen King's novel is the day (and the time it took for him to recover) of the motor accident he was in. On June 19th 1999, Stephen King was struck by a van while he was taking a walk before a trip he planned to go on with his family. After the accident, he had to stay in the hospital for three weeks. Yet his passion for writing did not stop even after his accident. Five weeks after the accident, Stephen King began to write again. In fact, he managed to finish the first edition of this novel while he was recovering. This event only shows the strength that King had to recover for both his family and his passion.

#6 The Important Element...

The most important element in this novel is events.
Because the story is half autobiography and half writing guide, it can seem like the book jumps around a lot. However, the autobiography section is set up as a string of events that Stephen King remembers. He does not remember the time or place of these events quite well (He lived a "herky-jerky childhood" and moved around from state to state) but his recollection of these events are crystal-clear. Even in the writing guide section of the book, he uses events from his writing experiences to explain why he feels the way he does about using certain techniques.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

#5 What a Light-Hearted Mood You Have...

The tone of On Writing is almost conversational. The parts of the novel that deal with King telling his childhood are basically him spinning a tale that one is meant to enjoy and laugh at. It is sort of like a grandfather telling his grandchildren old war stories; the children are prone to "ooh!" and "ahh!" at the action and giggle at the pranks their grandpa used to pull on his old war buddies.

Stephen King is entertaining in the entire novel, even as he explains his do's and don't's list of writing mechanics. This leads me to believe that the tone is mainly light-hearted. Some examples of this are found practically everywhere throughout the book;

On page 141, Stephen starts out his spiel about writing by using an analogy about how unlike the fact that there are no bad dogs, there are bad writers. He does this though in a joking manner, to almost cushion the blow;
There are no bad dogs, according to the title of a popular training manual, but don't tell that to the parent of a child mauled by a pit bull or a rottweiler; he or she is apt to burst your beak for you. And no matter how much I want to encourage the man or woman trying for the first time to write seriously, I can't lie and say there are no bad writers. Sorry, but there are lots of bad writers.
On page 220, King tells about how his wife Tabby was reading one of his manuscripts in the car. King goes on to say that he had kept peeking over to her to see if she had at least smiled at the humorous parts of the story. His wife caught on after about the 7th or 8th time (King reluctantly admits that it may have been his 15th) and yelled at him "Pay attention to your driving before you crack us up, will you? Stop being so goddamn needy!" King concludes this memory with the the confession that most writers are needy, especially between the first and second drafts.

The last example can be found on page 35,  when King reminisces in a childhood memory of his favorite television shows. He explains the first story that he ever sent in to a magazine for a contest, and also the kind of child he was when he wrote the story. "I don't recall the title"- by this he means the title of the story he sent in- "but I was still in my Ro-Man phase of my development, and this particular tale undoubtedly owed a great deal to the killer ape with a goldfish bowl for a head".