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I’m Going to Follow Stephen King’s Advice

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I’m a huge fan of Stephen King. Been reading his books since ‘Carrie’ hit the shelves back when I was in high school. I think everyone can agree, whether they like his books or not, that the guy is one prolific writer. And it might be hard to believe that my favorite Stephen King book has nothing to do with monsters or aliens or evil clowns. My favorite King book is ‘On Writing; a memoir of the Craft.’

I’ve always known I have a novel rattling around in my brain. Unfortunately, I don’t keep that brain in a jar on my desk like King does, so it’s a little more difficult for me to ferret out said novel because it’s dark up there. And full of cobwebs, creaky doors and lots of every day distractions like where will the rent come from this month, how much longer before the electric company notices I haven’t paid a bill for a few months and can a person really live on peanut butter and jelly and PopTarts.

Don’t worry. These questions probably bother you a lot more than they bother me. I happen to like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, rent here in Kentucky is pretty cheap, and I have a long extension cord and lots of neighbors. Besides, aren’t artists supposed to starve for their craft?

As I said, I’ve had this novel rattling around in the dark for quite some time now. We’re talking years, here. And it’s finally time to start getting it down on paper. How do I know it’s time? Why now and not 6 years ago when the idea first blossomed up their in the dust and the dirt?

Because Stephen King says it’s time.

Over the years I’ve put off starting this novel because I couldn’t quite come up with a workable plot. I have the main characters. I have a basic setting. I even have an ending. But I’ve never been able to come up with a way to get my characters from Point A to Point B. I know it’s possible, I’m just not sure how.

Over the years I’ve also read King’s book, ‘On Writing’ at least 5 or 6 times and always come away with something new to add to my writer’s toolbox. Sometimes I don’t even read it all the way through. Sometimes I just pick it up and scan a couple of pages, just to get in the writing mood, and put it lovingly back in it’s place on the bookshelf.

Today, as I passed by the bookcase, my old friend seemed to almost leap out at me. ‘On Writing’ must know how close I’m getting on this old novel that’s been stewing away upstairs because it literally fell open to page 163. And this is the advice that my good friend Stephen had for me today:

In my view, stories and novels consist of three parts: narration… description … and dialogue … You may wonder where plot is in all this. The answer – my answer anyway – is nowhere.

King goes on to say that he doesn’t trust plotting for two reasons: The first is that life has no plot. No matter how much we plan and scheme, life always interferes. His second reason for distrusting plot is because he believes that it’s impossible to carefully script a plot and still allow for spontaneity. And in a great novel, sometimes it’s all about letting the characters have their own way.

So, I have my characters. I have my scenario. I can tell a good story. Now it’s time to get started and let my characters tell you theirs. Wish me luck! Oh, and if you happen to have an extra brain lying around, could you send it along? It might be easier to get this story out if I can actually visualize the brain that houses it.

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About Donna Anderson