Saturday, October 30, 2010

Advice to Writers: Stephen King

Never Look at a Reference Book While Doing a First Draft

Never look at a reference book while doing a first draft. You want to write a story? Fine. Put away your dictionary, your encyclopedias, your World Almanac, and your thesaurus. Better yet, throw your thesaurus into the wastebasket. The only things creepier than a thesaurus are those little paperbacks college students too lazy to read the assigned novels buy around exam time. Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule. You think you might have misspelled a word? O.K., so here is your choice: either look it up in the dictionary, thereby making sure you have it right - and breaking your train of thought and the writer's trance in the bargain - or just spell it phonetically and correct it later. Why not? Did you think it was going to go somewhere? And if you need to know the largest city in Brazil and you find you don't have it in your head, why not write in Miami, or Cleveland? You can check it ... but later. When you sit down to write, write. Don't do anything else except go to the bathroom, and only do that if it absolutely cannot be put off.

This is very wise advice. Stephen King is the man to go to for writing advice. He knows how to put the words on a document into a full fledged novel for everyone to enjoy. I remember when I was writing my first short story, it always took me forever to write the whole draft because I was always flipping through reference books because I never knew if I was making the punctuation right, or the dialogue right. What I learned from this quote is that I just write the whole darn thing, even if it's horrible, then go back and revise until it's perfect.

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