Friday, November 23, 2012

The Master's Master Class

The master's master class
The commonest [tool] of all, the bread of writing, is vocabulary.
Stephen King
On Writing:  A Memoir of the Craft

I've never really read a Stephen King novel--perhaps a short story or two; horror is just not my genre.  But you cannot argue with the sheer  volume of his body of work, nor his sales numbers.  So, it's not surprising that Stephen King's autobiography would tell a great story.  There's more to the story than just the story.  Like the teacher that he once was, King's memoir includes a master class on the craft of writing.

Like all good teachers, King demystifies writing.  He admits it is hard work; with hard work, at some point, it becomes craft.  In addition to word choice, King offers advice on grammar, sentence structure, and storytelling.  He lays the foundation for each skill, offers exemplars, then goes onto the next.  By the time you're through, you cannot wait to apply the lessons King has so generously offered.

Just prior to King's memoir, I had read William Zinsser's classic about writing non-fiction:  On Writing Well.  It was an interesting comparison because I found King echoing much of Zinsser's straightforward advice, especially on adverbs--avoid them.  Any writer would do well to consider that, and the rest of their advice.

Do I recommend this book?  Of course.  Buy it.  Keep it.  Mark in it.  Read it again, and again.  Then write.