Writing and Other Afflictions

"If it was easy, everyone would do it." –Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own"

"On Writing"

In our fiction workshop, one of our readings this week is a chapter from Stephen King’s “On Writing.” When I first read that book, a long time ago, I was impressed by how clear and helpful it was. The more I meet other writers, the more I find that people share that opinion. It doesn’t matter whether they’re genre writers, or graduate students, or biographers. Everyone seems to appreciate it.

I think it’s pretty cool that someone whose books are so often derided as simply popular bestsellers could write a book that so many people find helpful in their writing career. Many people who wouldn’t look twice at one of his novels nonetheless hold up “On Writing” as a great aid to their writing.

In this section, King talks about assembling the basic tools of writing. One of the things he stresses in talking about vocabulary is that you shouldn’t force it. In other words, don’t try to pretty it up by searching for a fancier word. Chances are the one you first thought of is the best one for the job. He says, let your vocabulary stretch on its own, as you read. The more naturally your words flow, the more natural they’ll read to the reader. (This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t edit, but that’s another story…)

3 responses to “"On Writing"

  1. Anonymous January 13, 2008 at 12:37 am

    Are you the same Tim Susman who wrote the “fox web page”?

  2. Anonymous January 13, 2008 at 12:43 am

    Never mind..you are the same guy. Great web page. As much as I wanted to I didn’t feed that beautiful fox. I live on a golf course in Miami for 20 years and we have had generations of red foxes. They den in vacant homes on the course but their favorite spot is under a raised wood deck in one of the homes. We all respect them and they are shy from humans but I realized after reading your page that they have it made. The golf course has birds, ducks, turtles, frogs and lots of golfer’s garbage.

  3. Anonymous January 13, 2008 at 12:49 am

    Great web page and thanks for all the info. To answer your question as to why after 20 years I wanted to feed them it’s because they are so hard to spot and usually it is from a distance. Tonight we were face to face in my backyard and both of us decided we didn’t want to meet. What a beautiful and exquisite animal. I hope she thought the same of me in my old torn house coat. Take care and thanks again for the foxy education.Jane

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