Stephen King, author of several bestsellers like Carrie, The Shining, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption and Under the Dome, has sold an astounding 350 million copies of his books and counting. The 69-year-old Maine-born novelist has seen his work been converted into movies, TV shows, miniseries and even comic books. The horror and supernatural fiction writer isn’t just a commercial success, he has been revered and adorned with numerous medals, awards and accolades.
Aspiring writers can learn a lot from the American storyteller who, even after being a victim of a terrible car accident, didn’t stop putting pen to paper. King published a memoir On Writing in 2000 that also serves as a guide for budding novelist. He has given plenty of advice to up-and-coming novelists. Here are 10 of the best writing tips from Stephen King:
- Read and write a lot. Reading is an essential tool to becoming a successful author. King suggests reading and writing four to six hours a day. In fact, he sets a daily quota of 2,000 words per day and is determined to meet it. You need to devote several hours a day to honing your craft. He says that the most valuable lessons are the ones you teach yourself.
- The best stories aren’t about events but about people. Write stories that are character-driven. After all, readers fall in love with characters, not events.
- Write for yourself. One of the best writing tips the multimillion-dollar writer has given is to write because it makes you happy. Don’t write for money, to make friends or get dates.
- When re-writing and proofreading an unpublished book, take out all the things that do not add to the story.
- Being grammatically correct is important, but don’t obsess over it. At the end of the day, you’re writing a story and ensuring that the reader wants to it. However, King encourages writers to avoid adverbs.
- Avoid distractions like the TV, videogames and mobile phones. They are a writer’s enemies.
- Start with a what if scenario and work your story based on it. This is one of King’s most useful writing tips if you’re afflicted with a common malady known as writer’s block.
- Kill your favorite characters, even if it hurts you. A good author isn’t afraid to kill them.
- Fear is what keeps most writers from being successful.
- Emerging scribes should stick to their own writing style rather than imitate another author’s style. Just be yourself.
So there you have it – Stephen King’s recipe for becoming a bestselling author. It may be difficult to start writing fiction or you may be stuck but the important thing is to keep going. King overcame a lot of difficulties such as financial problems, a car accident and inability to find work as a teacher. He raised three kids with his wife while teaching full-time and writing novels on the side. Now go ahead and pen that book you’ve always wanted. The best time to write something is now.