Powerful lessons on writing from the legendary Stephen King.

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His advice is straightforward. You need to: read, write, and use the right tools.
And above all else, you must be fearless.

King emphasizes the importance of learning through doing. Not only through writing but reading too.

"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. \
There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut."

King teaches the reader many practical lessons, here are key areas every writer should focus on:



Writing comes down to being honest & using the right tools.

Like verbs. Verbs are either active or passive. Avoid the passive verb.

"With an active verb, the subject of the sentence is doing something.
With a passive verb, something is being done to the subject of the sentence."

Don't try to fancy up your writing by replacing short words with longer ones.

The adverb is not your friend.

Don't be afraid of using fragments, but don't overuse them either.
"The paragraph, not the sentence, is the basic unit of writing.
The place where coherence begins and words stand a chance of becoming more than mere words."


Unlike Pressfield, King doesn’t put much emphasis on theme.
Press field likes to know the theme ahead of time. King discovers theme as he’s writing.

Good stories do not start with theme; rather, you discover the theme later on, sometimes during the 2nd draft.

Same goes with structuring the plot ahead of time:
"I believe plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren't compatible."

While some thrive working off an outline, those like King find them too restrictive to the creative process.

This applies to character development too.

Your idea of who or what the character is at the outset will likely be wrong.
By the time the story is finished, the character may be completely different.

Your job is to recognize good story ideas, not find them.


Honesty in your writing is important.

Write honestly and w/ clarity. Your characters should act & respond as people do in real life. Use what you've observed in your writing.

"What are you going to write about?...Anything at all...as long as you tell the truth."
This includes not holding back.

Write fearlessly. Don't hesitate due to fear of how others may react to your writing. It isn't honest writing, but bad writing.


“You can learn only by doing.”

We learn not only through writing, but through reading too.

Keep reading and keep writing. Day in and day out. Write. And then write some more.

No one is born a skilled writer. Great writers are beaten into shape through effort.


You need a system in place to write.

"But you need the room, you need the door, & you need the determination to shut the door.
You need a concrete goal, as well. The longer you keep to these basics, the easier the act of writing will become.
Don't wait for the muse."


Don't waste a lot of time building up to action, get right to it.
King tells us to "emulate Grisham's openness and inability to do anything other than get right to the point"

"one of the cardinal rules of good fiction is never tell us a thing if you can show us, instead."


You control the pace of the story by leaving "out the boring parts.
This suggests cutting to speed the pace…(kill your darlings, kill your darlings,
even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler's heart, kill your darlings)."

"If it works, fine. If it doesn't, toss it. Toss it even if you love it.
Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch once said, "Murder your darlings," and he was right."

Don't stop working on a project because it is difficult, that's the worst thing you can do.

Good stories are forged through round after round of revisions.

"Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft - 10%. Good luck."

Thank you for reading. If you found it useful, feel free to share it.