Monday, June 18, 2012

more thoughts on Stephen King's On Writing

So I've been thinking about Stephen King's On Writing, more specifically his thoughts on how plots can be "labored and artificial".  I was thinking that's why agents like high concept books, because it focuses on characters, which is also what readers like the most and can relate to.  And while I think Stephen King is right about that, I still find myself liking plotted books.  I fall in love with characters, but if there isn't something pushing them forward, I kind of stall.  Maybe those specific books I read weren't character-driven enough, but either way I still find myself liking books with plots.  I do like what he stated about putting characters in a situation and seeing how they get themselves out of it, though he says that's not a "plot".

I have to remember that there are no hard-and-fast rules (except for maybe spelling and grammar, but even those can be stretched) and it's something that I forget a lot.  These are King's suggestions, which are really good suggestions, but they won't work for every story.  I think maybe for my next book I will throw characters into a predicament and see them work themselves out of it.  But for now, I need to focus on making my books the best they can be and not take his word as Rule.


  1. I really have to read this book again. I hardly remember it but I just remember thinking it was good. I definitely like character driven novels, but things need to be happening to keep my attention. It doesn't have to be action packed, but enough to keep the story moving.

    If you throw characters into a situation and see how they work it out, does that mean no outlining? I'm starting to think about my next project, and I'm going to try to outline and plot as much as I can beforehand. Change it up a bit to see if I like that better, because "discovery writing" kind of makes me want to pull all my hair out :D

    1. He doesn't really talk about outlining (not that I can remember), but he does say the situation comes first and the characters come after that.

      I think outlining Novel 2 def helped me a lot. I think within an outline you can throw characters into a situation and see how they work it. Having certain plot points along the way (I always use the worksheet from here to help helped me a lot to know where I was going in the story arc, because I agree that while I love characters (and it's what makes me fall in love with a novel), I still need something plot-based to keep me wanting to read the novel and to see what happens in the end.