I am serious about improving my writing and therefore I bought some books on the craft. I’m currently reading “On Writing” by Stphen King and I will finish it tonight. (I want to write this first, because later I might be too tired to bother.)
It’s a pretty good book. There are some biographical parts that neatly lead into the “How to write” part. And the one thing that I want to talk about here has to do with how he approaches the story.
King says, just come up with a situation. The rest will write itself if you let it.
I really like this idea. Coming up with situations should be easy, after all, no?
Let me try.
“On his last day of the job and one day before he was to set sail on a yacht around the world, a decorated FBI agent discovers that his boss and most of his colleagues are crooks.”
Or how about this one:
“Aliens who can manipulate events see that the fate of the universe depends on humanity developing beyond their starsystem. Unfortunately humans are just about to start nuclear war. The aliens desperately need humanity to succeed and one of them comes up with a plan to make sure we do.”
The second one almost makes me want to write it immediately. So many possibilities here!
So King says, start writing, and the story will unfold almost all by itself. There will be a point, which he says some call creepy, but he calls exciting, when the characters start to come alive on their own. When they surprise the writer who just has to record what happens on paper (or, more likely, in his Word document).
What a great way to write a book. The author is the frist reader. He doesn’t know how it all will end, he just invents some people and lets them try.
The story is in us, King says. It’s like a fossil which we slowly uncover.
I assume the fossils in us are more interesting if we have read many stories ourselves. There’s more material to draw from. Watching a lot of movies may work, too, but I believe reading is special. What we read goes deeper. Fossilizes better, perhaps.
I also use this approach while writing all these blogposts lately. Just a one sentence idea and the rest takes care of itself. I trust it will and it does. (Well, it usually does. So far I deleted 2 finished posts, because they were boring.)
I already discovered this fact of life - that things can write themselves - before, by the way. When I write my diary. It often starts slow but then gets better and better. It’s actually a rather spectacular way to spend an evening, believe me. (Perhaps I’ll say more on this in some future post.)
Yes, writing is a discovery technique.
I am very pleased that the master himself, Stephen King, spells it out for us. We now have celebrity permission to try it out.
And seeing the two story situations I came up with (spontaneously) above, I am slightly tempted to try my luck with fiction.
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