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Stephen King - on Writing

Essay by   •  January 8, 2018  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,239 Words (5 Pages)  •  836 Views

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1st Passage:

“If you were to ask the poet what this poem meant, you’d likely get a look of contempt. A slightly uncomfortable silence was apt to emanate from the rest. Certainly the fact that the poet would likely have been unable to tell you anything about the mechanics of creation would not have been considered important.” pg. 53

In this passage, I think Stephen King is saying that a writer may write a poem or a story and know what they are saying but not why they are saying it. I think this is important, because you can write a story, craft it beautifully, make excellent word choices and put the whole story together in a way that works extremely well without having a clue how it came to your mind. Sometimes these ideas just come from the heart, mind or within your soul.

Writing like this can have good and bad qualities. The good qualities come from writing a beautiful story that flows well and making excellent word choices. The bad qualities come from poor word choices and a story that doesn’t flow well because it’s disjointed.

“If you were to ask the poet what this poem meant, you’d likely get a look of contempt. A slightly uncomfortable silence was apt to emanate from the rest.” In this quote I can picture a scene he created because of the words he uses. When he talks about the look of contempt on the poet’s face I can just picture the poet’s facial expression changing. When he talks about how an uncomfortable silence was apt to emanate from the rest, I can imagine wherever they are going silent. After he sets the scene he talks about what the poets believes. As though the poet doesn’t have to show you the mechanics of the poem because it should be understandable.

2nd Passage:

“No matter how good you are, no matter how much experience you have, it’s probably impossible to get the entire fossil out of the ground without a few breaks and losses. To get even most of it, the shovel must give way to more delicate tools: air hose, palm-pick, perhaps even a toothbrush.” pg. 160

In this passage, King is referring to the plot of a book as a fossil and is saying that a writer needs to be gentle and use the correct writing tools to be able to get as much of the plot out in one piece. Most people are taught from a young age that the first thing a writer does is write down a plot line, then add characters and other story elements. King makes the concept easily attainable by a general audience, not just someone who has a background in writing.

King refers to a writing toolbox that each author constructs for themselves and that contains layers of tools which could aid the author during the writing process. The toolbox layers contain tools such as vocabulary, grammar, and style. These are as helpful as an actual toolbox is during building repairs, and King explains this with a quote from his grandfather. When a young Stephen King asked why his grandfather brought his whole toolbox with him for a simple repair, the answer he got was: “It’s best to have your tools with you. If you don’t, you're apt to find something you didn’t expect and get discouraged.”

This quote contains a great piece of advice: If you don’t bring all of your skills and tools to your writing table, the moment you don’t have them you will become intimidated and want to stop writing. It would be as if you didn’t bring a calculator to math class; the math will still be possible, but you won’t want to do it.

Language also comes into play in this quote. The metaphor King uses is an interesting one, because it is a graspable concept to a beginning writer. With the shovel, he shows how the first writing tools we use are large and strong. Grammar or vocabulary could be considered the shovels of writing tools. The shovels then give way to finer tools, such as a palm pick or air hose. In other words, after vocabulary and grammar, the writer will have to use style and form. With these tools, a writer will be able to excavate the whole “fossil,” or plot of the book. King can clearly show his message with this metaphor, which removes the need for a cluttered



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