November 17, 2014
Stephen King’s Ten Commandments of Writing
I got a lot of feedback on Nathan Branford’s 10 Commandments I published a few weeks ago, so I wanted to share another collection. I picked Stephen King because there’s been a buzz about his book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, in my PLN–even though it’s a good fourteen years old. When I went searching for his ubiquitous Writer’s Ten Commandments, I found lots of lists, but each different. It became clear that he has so many great suggestions, trying to distill it to ten became a subjective decision.
What was universal was this #1 Commandment:
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
Stephen King is another in a long list of ultimate writers who exhort would-be authors that the foundation of good writing is reading. I can’t tell you how often I’ve read that advice from the greats–so often in fact, it’s become more axiom than advice.
I counted sixty-seven ‘Top Ten Commandments” as I was researching this article. Here’s my list of his Top Ten:
- Humor is almost always anger with its make-up on.
- Write every day.
- Find your space.
- Write the truth.
- Don’t plot.
- Practice describing.
- Practice showing — not telling — through the use of real dialogue.
- Good fiction always begins with story and progresses to theme.
- Constant reading will pull you into a place where you can write eagerly and without self consciousness. It also offers you a constantly growing knowledge of what has been done and what hasn’t; what is trite and what is fresh, what works and what just lies there dying on the page.
Read a list of fifty-six King Commandments here. For favorite King quotes, visit this Goodreads list (you must be a member of Goodreads to view it, but you should join that penultimate writer’s community anyway).
More Ten Commandments:
Ten Commandments from Richard Bausch
Henry Miller’s Ten Commandments of Writing
The 10 Commandments of Fiction Writing
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