Saturday Seminar: King Says Con’t

It’s been a bit since I perused through my file of nuggets from Stephen King’s On Writing, but today seems like a good day to think about editing my disaster of a spy novel. In preparation I’ll consider what King says on the topic.

Two drafts and a polish. (209)

Completely reasonable. I’ve written my first draft and now I need to work out a second one.

Revision formula: 2nd draft = 1st draft – 10% (222) 

Oh dear. That could be problematic for me as a couple of my betas have suggested the second half of my spy novel needs fattening. It’s too lean, too rushed, too barren. Perhaps I should do 2nd draft = 1st draft plus 10%?

If what you hear from your betas makes sense, then make the changes. You can’t let the whole world into your story, but you can let in the ones that matter the most. And you should. (219)

Hrm, one of the betas who said feed my novel was the hubs. And realistically, he is always right. Always.

When you rewrite your main job is taking out all things that are not the story. (57)

It’s been suggested I should dump the sex scenes. But other people like them. So I think really the question comes down to, do I need the sex scenes to demonstrate the nature of the relationship or could I just allude to it and keep things cleaner?

When a novelist is challenged on something he likes-one of his darlings-the first two works out of his mouth are almost always Yeah but. (226)

Ah oh. Did I say Yeah, But in the last response? No, no I didn’t. LOL. But maybe the feeling was there.

The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting. (227)

Ok, one of the sex scenes is back story. Maybe I should change that to a one line allusion rather than a half page descriptive.

It is, after all, the dab of grit that seeps into an oyster’s shell that makes the pear, not pearl-making seminars with other oysters. (232)

Alright, I get the point. I should just dive in and see where that second draft takes me. But before I go…just a bit of amusement. Spot the mistake, courtesy of King. 

“Although deer season doesn’t start until November in Maine, the fields of October are often alive with gunshots; the locals are shooting as many peasants as they think their families will eat.”

Weekend Workshop/Discussion

This might be more of a discussion than workshop but I recently read Stephen King’s On Writing and I noted down a million and one things he said and I want to talk about them a little at a time.

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut. (145)

This makes perfect sense to me. Whether you read good prose or bad, fiction or non, you are learning the skill, the art, the process, as you read. This cannot help but transfer to the words you write. And the more you write the better you must get from sheer practice.

10, 000 hours=mastery.

You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you. (146)

I’m not sure about this one. Mainly because I think what sweeps one person away irritates another.  Just because you are swept off your feet by a sparkly day glow vampire stalker doesn’t mean I won’t drive a stake through his heart first chance I get.

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write. Simple as that. (147)

Ok but….

The sort of strenuous reading and writing program I advocate – four to six hours a day, every day (150)

And here is where he loses me. So if I can’t find four-six hours a day to read and write I am not a writer. Or I don’t have the tools to be a writer? Isn’t that a bit rigid? Who says I have to do the 10, 000 hours in one year? If it takes me five years, am I any less a master? Or maybe this just rubs me the wrong way because it’s an impossibility for me now in this place in my life and I don’t want to give up my efforts because I can’t meet his impossible guidelines.

Thoughts on how much time one should devote to reading and writing to be a writer? Do you think reading is an key aspect of writing?

Fiendish Friday: Stubborn

When I was a baby I had this sheet that my mom would spread on the floor before she put me down for tummy time. I inherited it when I got older and on one corner is a picture of a cart driver trying to pull a mule, who has sat on his haunches, forward. Below the picture says T.A. is as stubborn as a mule. I know my mom thought she was being funny, but I think that picture actually programmed my little brain. Don’t want to do something, sit down, put my ears back, and wait it out.

Whenever someone encourages me too strongly to do something I resist. Examples you ask?

A) I had a boyfriend who was obsessed with the movie Bend it like Beckham. When he first brought it up to me, I was like, sounds fun we should watch it. Every time he talked about it though, I got a little more resistant to seeing the movie. Every “you have to watch this” made me more reluctant. Finally I flat out refused. After we broke up, I got a bottle of my favorite wine and watched it on netflix. LOL Pretty darn entertaining actually.

B) Someone once gave me a copy of Dan Brown’s the Davinci Code for Christmas with the note “Read this immediately so I can discuss it with you.” Um, what? You gave me work to do for you, for Christmas? My ass. Still haven’t read that book.

So when everyone and their brother started telling me I need to read Stephen King’s On Writing, you can imagine what happened. Ears went back. I really, really didn’t wanna uh.

Finally I gave in. I did. I read the book. It was actually quite good. I found it super amusing. I have some thoughts about some of his writing advice which I will share over the next few weeks.

Does this mean I am going to read Dan Brown’s book next? Laughing. Not on your life.

So what about you? Stubborn or pliable? Are you grateful when people try to force you into things or irritated?