On Writing
On Writing A Memoir of the Craft By King, Stephen Book - 2001

Below I comment only on the part of King’s book that offers advice on writing, not the longer part of the book that is autobiographical. King is an admirer of the grammatical rules of Strunk and White, but is not overawed by them: “They are offered with a refreshing strictness, beginning with the rule on how to form possessives…and ending with ideas about where it it’s best to place the most important parts of a sentence. They say at the end, and everybody’s entitled to his/her opinion, but I don’t believe ‘With a hammer he killed Frank’ will ever replace ‘He killed Frank with a hammer’.)” Note that the first sentence in this quotation is, quite appropriately, in the passive case, which King counsels us not to use. He is too good a writer to be the prisoner of his own rules. English is an uninflected language with a pretty rigid word order compared to an inflected language like Russian, so as King notes, an effort to change word order for appropriate emphasis may come sound stilted or unnatural, even if it isn’t against the formal rules of grammar. King says his professional career was greatly helped by advice that may have come from Algis Budrys, the Soviet-born science-fiction writer: “Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%.” King believes the revision of most drafts, if it is to be effective, should be mainly geared to deletion of unnecessary words and phrases. King is no substitute for the Fowler brothers or George Orwell as a guide to writing English, but he doesn’t claim to be. Unlike them, he is our contemporary, so virtually nothing he writes is dated. It is a witty, charming book that made me want to finally read one of his bestselling novels.

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