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Stephen King – The Secret Lesson he has for you as a Writer


There is no mistaking that Stephen King is a masterful writer. His prose is clean and extraordinarily well written. But there is another, very valuable lesson, he has to offer you as an aspiring author. To understand this lesson you have to take a look at his body of work.


If you look at the enormous body of work that Stephen King has produced over the last several decades what do you come up with? You come up with an incredibly diverse range of works that run the complete spectrum of writing. He has written multi-volume stories that span decades of his life, collections of short stories, single book stories, and well just about every length of story imaginable. He doesn’t limit himself to the format of a novel or of a short story. In terms of story length he has no limits.

This same observation on his writing holds true for his television and movie writing. He has written traditional length movies, multi-episode Television shows, and movies that are a compilation of shorter works all tied together with a theme.

But this freedom of expression that he has is not just limited to the length of the work. It is also clearly evident in the subject and genre of his work. He has written horror, science fiction, fantasy and more. And often times his books simply do not stay within any one category. You often find a mixture of all these genres in one book.

His work, in other words, is very diverse. He has no qualms about writing whatever he wants to write in any length, and in any genre. He allows his stories go wherever they need to go.

You might be thinking to yourself that he is, after all, “Stephen King” so he can write whatever he wants. I don’t think this is true. I think this is backwards and the reality here is that he became “Stephen King” because he followed his heart and wrote what he wanted to write. He had the courage to follow his internal voice.

So what is the rule for Stephen King, and the lesson for you? It is that he writes what he wants to write. He has the courage to listen to his internal voice and take the story wherever it needs to go. This is the lesson of courage in writing and you should follow the same process. Write what you want to write, listen to your internal voice, and follow the story wherever it leads you in whatever length or genre it takes you.

I have lots more articles on writing fantasy here


On Writing - Short and snappy as it is, Stephen King's On Writing really contains two books: a fondly sardonic autobiography and a tough-love lesson for aspiring novelists. The memoir is terrific stuff, a vivid description of how a writer grew out of a misbehaving kid. You're right there with the young author as he's tormented by poison ivy, gas-passing babysitters, uptight schoolmarms, and a laundry job nastier than Jack London's. It's a ripping yarn that casts a sharp light on his fiction. This was a child who dug Yvette Vickers from Attack of the Giant Leeches , not Sandra Dee. "I wanted monsters that ate whole cities, radioactive corpses that came out of the ocean and ate surfers, and girls in black bras who looked like trailer trash." But massive reading on all literary levels was a craving just as crucial, and soon King was the published author of "I Was a Teen-Age Graverobber." As a young adult raising a family in a trailer, King started a story inspired by his stint as a janitor cleaning a high-school girls locker room. He crumpled it up, but his writer wife retrieved it from the trash, and using her advice about the girl milieu and his own memories of two reviled teenage classmates who died young, he came up with Carrie . King gives us lots of revelations about his life and work. The kidnapper character in Misery , the mind-possessing monsters in The Tommyknockers , and the haunting of the blocked writer in The Shining symbolized his cocaine and booze addiction (overcome thanks to his wife's intervention, which he describes). "There's one novel, Cujo , that I barely remember writing."