Tag Archives: Stephen King

Quick and Dirty



1: At my first horror convention, I attended a two-day writing course, one of the few things our teacher told us never to do is to bang on about the weather. No one cares. Never open with the weather, never wax lyrical about the sunrise. Lazy and boring.

2: Stephen King talks about this in his excellent guide, ‘On Writing’. When writing dialogue only ever use the tag: he/she said. Avoid things like, ‘he said quietly’, ‘she laughed’, ‘he coughed’, ‘he mewled’, ‘she sighed’. Actually, I try to avoid the ‘he said, she said’ all together and show simple body language and movement instead.

3: Only experienced writers with proven track records can say their writing is good, for the rest of us, zip it until you’re a best selling author.

4: There’s nothing worse than an over-inflated ego. Angels will not weep at your prose and you seriously have to get a grip. The amount of authors I know with a god-complex would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

5: Grow thick skin. You will have to deal with rejection and critique. It’s essential for growth. Submit your work and prepare the pile of rejection letters. Nobody will love you at first, but that’s okay, you don’t need someone else’s love to define you.

6: Write everyday. Even it’s only for five minutes.

7: Read lots. Read everyday. Not just books, but articles, poems, essays. Read. Read. Read.

8: If you’re just starting out, then remember this, if nothing else. It takes time. And I mean years.

9: Active voice, baby. Bin the passive.

10: Always write for yourself, to hell with anyone else. Someone, somewhere, will get you. Just keep on tying.


Four Non-Rules of Writing


Four Non-Rules of Writing

It would be, I feel, hyper hypercritical and a little conceited if I were to offer any advice towards writing. I’m a short story writer. Made my pro sales, got the badge to prove it. All that type of stuff. But I certainly don’t qualify to give advice. What I can do however is point out a couple of ‘rules I’ve noticed along the way.

Rule one of writing: There are no rules, or is it don’t talk about writing?

Just over two years ago, I decided to start writing with a view to publish. Before that I’d messed around, written a little here or there, but made no attempt to better myself as a writer or do any of the half-dozen things we’re told that writers should do. Anyway, I took the plunge joined a writing group and realised exactly where I stood in terms of quality and skill. In short: it’s a big pond and I’m a little fish.  It didn’t stop me though. And I largely suspected that nothing could – short of blindness and my hands being cut off.

I love telling stories, love it, regardless of how crap they may be.

Now the great thing about joining a writing group is that sooner or later you’ll receive an honest critique of your work and unless you’re the next Shakespeare – you’re not, you know – the glaring mistakes will be pointed out. It’s a tough pill to swallow, to be honest. But toughen up, if you want to be published.

So taking a deep breath, I listened to what people had to say, and I mean really listened, and continued to write. Not long after, I realised that all advice was contradictory at best and damaging at worse. Use adverbs: don’t use adverbs. Remove all instances of ‘was’: leave ‘was’ in. Do as I say, not as I do. Ugh. I ended up taking what worked for me and binning the rest. My stories got better, and the sales started to come in. Last year, I set my goal for three pro sales and made it with change. Not bad for a newbie. I also got the gig working for Starburst interviewing famous folk and reviewing books – which is the best job ever. Fact.

So what else did I learn?

Rule two of writing: The publishing world isn’t fair.

Just like life isn’t fair.  Which sounds like me whining. I’m not. No, really . . . well, just a little. In this game, the end product is all that really counts. If you’ve got great work that has win all over it, you’ll go far. If you haven’t, then back to the drawing board. That said, I’ve known plenty of great writers who still struggle to make a sale. Their time will come. I’m sure. Just not yet. The thing of it is, yes, you might have an awesome manuscript or a clever short story that will knock the reader’s socks off, but so does the next guy and the guy after that. Which I guess takes us back to the toughen up comment.  Grow a thick skin.

Rule three: Writing is subjective.

Some people will love your work. Others will hate it. It’s weird, I know, but it’s true. Only really worry if everyone hates it. Corps Cadavres sold to pseudopod – thanks guys – they believed in that story enough to turn it into an awesome podcast. But when handed to the forums, it’s fair to say the response was divided. What’s that old adage: you can’t please all the people all the time. Well, in writing that’s definitely true.

Rule four: Read like it’s going out of fashion.

The theory being that the more you read, the better you’ll become. Is it true? You know, I think it is. I currently spend hours reading a day. When I can, wherever I can. I like it, makes me feel good. You should do the same.

Ron Howard and The Dark Tower


Dark Tower

Deadline reported the other day that things are moving along for the proposed Dark Tower franchise directed by Ron Howard.  The adaption of Stephen King’s novels are due to hit the big screen May 17 2013 with a TV series planned between films.  

“A great author’s life work is not to be taken lightly,” Howard says, “and we are having great creative conversations.”

Dark Tower remains one of Stephen King’s most popular works, detailing the mysterious Gunslinger as he searches for the Dark Tower. There are several books in the series which King started as a young man and then returned to years later to complete. It links to the vampires of Salem’s Lot, and to the Stand. In my humble opinion, The Dark Tower is one of the best books Stephen King has ever written. Well worth looking up, if you haven’t already.

Of course, Ron Howard directed A Beautiful Mind and the cult success that was  Willow, so it might be in safe hands. Only time will tell.

Source: http://www.deadline.com/2010/12/ron-howard-on-the-dark-tower/

Under the Dome


I finally finished Stephen King’s latest novel, Under the Dome, also his largest work weighing in at 336, 114 words.  I want to say that Under the Dome is an in-depth analysis of man at his absolute worst. That it’s a morale struggle with far reaching consequences. A sci-fi story that stays with you long after you put the book down. I really want to, but I can’t.

Because, actually, I didn’t enjoy the experience. It was a chore, a daily slog that became a battle between me and the book. And a month of carrying the colossal burden of Under the Dome around with you begins to weigh upon the soul. Who would give up first? Me, the besieged reader, or Stephen King’s rolling, darkly humorous epic. Now if I didn’t like it, you may ask, why continue? Fair question. The answer: promise Vs payoff. Conceptually, Under the Dome promises quite a bit. The opening chapters offer plenty of mystery and gruesome deaths galore. A dome encircles a small town in Maine: where did it come from? What’s going to happen? Are aliens, terrorists, or worse responsible? How are these tragically flawed characters going to deal with the experience? The promise is so strong, so utterly compelling, I was forced to continue. There is a cliff hanger on almost every page.

So what went wrong?

Stephen King

It ran out of steam. Sure, there are moments of greatness, acts so vile and evil it makes me cringe to think about it, but to get to these moments I had to wade through whole chapters of padding for a glimpse, or tiny glimmer of the promise offered. There is also the unhealthy comparison to the plot of the Simpson’s movie, but I’m inclined to believe that King has no need to plagiarise such a widely known franchise and put it down to a great idea conceived by a handful of people capable of transforming it into something marketable.

I’m left feeling that Under the Dome could have been so much more. It still and always will be a great read for millions of fans, in fact it’s slated to become a TV mini-series. Perhaps the medium of TV will succeed where the book, for me, failed. But then looking at other interpretations of Stephen King’s works, perhaps not.