Monday, February 25, 2013

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Been reading a Stephen King book - it's a real page turner, yet it's not fiction. It's about the craft or writing form his perspective and is split into two sections. A brief biographical history that attempts to reveal how he became a writer from the events that happened in his life and then an easy going, laid back chit chat on what he considers to be good writing with many useful tips and advice from one of the most successful writers of his generation.

What I found extremely comforting was that he says you don't need to know a lot of words to be able to write well. It's how you construct your sentences that's important. Again detail is not always necessary and should be kept to a minimum in order to give readers just enough to fill in the blanks so you don't slow down the natural flow of the writing with irrelevant detail. Often less is much better than more.

This is music to my ears, as I have always been somewhat over-conscious of my lack of vocabulary and the fact that I often struggle to bring the right word into my head, particularly when I speak. I still lack confidence with my sentences too, probably because I never remember being taught how to construct them. I have just developed a system of writing that works for me. As it turns out, it seems it is the right way of doing things. The examples King gives on poor sentence construction and what not to do, I already seem to be aware of and try to avoid at all cost, though (even he admits) it is not always put to practice.

As I grow more confident with my writing I am beginning to realise that a lot of what I do is good, even very good. I don't know why this surprises me as I have never had a producer or agent tell me my writing is bad (Only my spelling and punctuation, which is more a case of mild dislexia than bad writing). When I first started to write seriously, friends and colleagues insisted that I was not a writer, that I should stick to directing and leave the writing to someone else. However, screenwriting to me is simply a poor-man's directing as the fundamental skills of telling the story are the same.

I have always been able to imagine very, very clearly in my mind. Being a very sociable person, directing was the natural position in which to tell stories, but now with nearly ten years of screenwriting practice, I am starting to be able to translate what I see in my head, directly onto the page with increasing success. Like Stephen King, this comes to me fairly easily. The difficulties I tend to have is with character.

I'm hoping there is a book out their that can explain to how to overcome these difficulties in way I can grasp. Too often screenwriting books are written academically and I struggle to fully understand the concepts, yet books like this or Save The Cat, are much more accessible to me and I recommend them whole heartedly.

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