Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers

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Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers

stephen king writing tips

In one of my favorite Stephen King interviews, for The Atlantic, he talks at length about the vital importance of a good opening line. “There are all sorts of theories,” he says, “it’s a tricky thing.” “But there’s one thing” he’s sure about: “An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” King’s discussion of opening lines is compelling because of his dual focus as an avid reader and a prodigious writer of fiction—he doesn’t lose sight of either perspective:

We’ve talked so much about the reader, but you can’t forget that the opening line is important to the writer, too. To the person who’s actually boots-on-the-ground. Because it’s not just the reader’s way in, it’s the writer’s way in also, and you’ve got to find a doorway that fits us both.

This is excellent advice. As you orient your reader, so you orient yourself, pointing your work in the direction it needs to go. Now King admits that he doesn’t think much about the opening line as he writes, in a first draft, at least. That perfectly crafted and inviting opening sentence is something that emerges in revision, which can be where the bulk of a writer’s work happens.

Revision in the second draft, “one of them, anyway,” may “necessitate some big changes” says King in his 2000 memoir slash writing guide On Writing. And yet, it is an essential process, and one that “hardly ever fails.” Below, we bring you King’s top twenty rules from On Writing. About half of these relate directly to revision. The other half cover the intangibles—attitude, discipline, work habits. A number of these suggestions reliably pop up in every writer’s guide. But quite a few of them were born of Stephen King’s many decades of trial and error and—writes the Barnes & Noble book blog—“over 350 million copies” sold, “like them or loathe them.”

1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”

2. Don’t use passive voice. “Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe.”

3. Avoid adverbs. “The adverb is not your friend.”

4. Avoid adverbs, especially after “he said” and “she said.”

5. But don’t obsess over perfect grammar. “The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story.”

6. The magic is in you. “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.”

7. Read, read, read. ”If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

8. Don’t worry about making other people happy. “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

9. Turn off the TV. “TV—while working out or anywhere else—really is about the last thing an aspiring writer needs.”

10. You have three months. “The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season.”

 11. There are two secrets to success. “I stayed physical healthy, and I stayed married.”

12. Write one word at a time. “Whether it’s a vignette of a single page or an epic trilogy like ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ the work is always accomplished one word at a time.”

13. Eliminate distraction. “There’s should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or videogames for you to fool around with.”

14. Stick to your own style. “One cannot imitate a writer’s approach to a particular genre, no matter how simple what that writer is doing may seem.”

15. Dig. “Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible.”

16. Take a break. “You’ll find reading your book over after a six-week layoff to be a strange, often exhilarating experience.”

17. Leave out the boring parts and kill your darlings. “(kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.)”

18. The research shouldn’t overshadow the story. “Remember that word back. That’s where the research belongs: as far in the background and the back story as you can get it.”

19. You become a writer simply by reading and writing. “You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.”

20. Writing is about getting happy. “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.”

See a fuller exposition of King’s writing wisdom at Barnes & Noble’s blog.

HIWAY AMERICA – Odd #Roadside Attractions Along I-80

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Odd Roadside Attractions Along I-80

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I’ve been thinking about taking a road trip from Michigan to Yellowstone. It would be a long drive, but I think there might be some very interesting things to see along the way. We try to take a break every couple hours during long road trips and we are always looking for add roadside attractions. I think these fit the bill for odd roadside attractions along I-80.

ODD ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS

FREEDOM ROCK

Menlo, IA

Odd Roadside Attractions
http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/8191

LARGEST TRUCK STOP

Walcott, IA

Largest Truck Stop
http://iowa80truckstop.com/

TREE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD

Brayton, IA

tree

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/8830

FUTURE BIRTHPLACE OF JAMES T. KIRK

Riverside, IA

Odd Roadside Attractions

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/8830

CARHENGE

Alliance, NE

carhenge

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/29025

CHIMNEY ROCK NATIONAL HISTORICAL SITE

Bayard, NE

Chimney Rock NE

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/16108

Of these, I think Carhenge is my favorite. It’s not directly off I-80, but I think it might be worth the trip.

I was hoping to find more quirkiness along I-80. Think “largest ball of twine”, “corn palace”, etc. If you know of anything odd or weird along the I-80 or near it let me know.
odd roadside

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Welcome To The World

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Welcome To The World

Originally posted on Sheep & Monkey Poems:

za za

A self-proclaimed, devout conservationist
Long in the longleaf pines

Dredging Kerouac’s alluvial thoughts
Just adding on and adding on
Not stopping ever
Till the cows come home and the lips crack
And the racks set on the spit
Burn to a crisp

An offering to the very best of gods

William Carlos Williams and Wordsworth
Looking in the alleys
For Rastafarian saints and intellectual allies
For some leader of the Confederacy to put faith in

“I’m down in your beaver hole, Ma” He writes
“Ripping the walls apart”
“No ideas but in things” He says
And sings at the Berkeley Poetry Conference 1965
Making everyone cry and realize the predicament of being

Einstein at Naropa and recordings of Trungpa
Praising the hippies and sipping the yippies
Longing for something more than a convertible Camero or plastic Jesus

And in the long hallways under fluorescent lights
Children learn to harbor deep…

View original 77 more words

COOL PEOPLE -GEORGE DE MESTRAL-THE DUDE WHO INVENTED VELCRO

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 velcro-wall-odemestral

  • The Velcro ® brand of hook and loop was invented by a man named George de Mestral in the 1940’s while hunting in the Jura mountains in Switzerland. Mr. de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, realized that the tiny hooks of the cockle-burs were stuck on his pants and in his dog’s fur and wondered how they attached themselves.

#Ginsberg in the 50s

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Ginsberg in the 50s

GINSBERGAginzy

A brief excerpt from David Burner’s Making Peace with the Sixties (Princeton University Press, 1996):

Ginsberg’s stay in the mental ward was not intended to help him realize his desire for life to be a “sweet humane surprise.” Ginsberg tried to conform, returned after several months to Paterson, dated women, and found a job. He was miserable until he moved to California in 1954 and began seeing a $1 an hour psychiatrist at the university in Berkeley. In San Francisco Ginsberg saw another psychiatrist, Philip Hicks, who asked him what he would like to do. “Doctor,” as Ginsberg recalls his answer, “I don’t think you’re going to find this very healthy and clear,”

but I really would like to stop working forever–never work again, never do anything like the kind of work I’m doing now–and do nothing but write poetry and have leisure to spend the day outdoors and go to museums and see friends. And I’d like to keep living with someone — maybe even a man — and explore relationships that way. And cultivate my perceptions, cultivate the visionary thing in me. Just a literary and quiet city-hermit existence. Then he said “Well, why don’t you?” I asked him what the American Psychoanalytic Association would say about that, and he said . . . if that is what you really feel would please you, what in the world is stopping you from doing it?

Portraits Of Famous Artists, And The Cats That Kept Them Sane

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Portraits Of Famous Artists, And The Cats That Kept Them Sane

 “I think the artist and cat are kindred spirits, because they are often mythologized,” author Alison Nastasi explained to The Huffington Post. “Both are frequently stereotyped as being aloof or even self-interested.”

Nastasi is the mind behind Artists and Their Cats, an aptly named compilation of photographs illustrating the historic partnership of, well, cat and artist. From Pablo Picasso to Frida Kahlo to Salvador Dali, the book reveals the felines behind some of the biggest painters and sculptors in the business. Because there’s nothing more enchanting than the friendships forged between achingly creative icons and the four-legged creatures that probably kept them sane.

daliSalvador Dali and his ocelot. World Telegram & Sun photo by Roger Higgins; image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

As Nastasi points out, cats tend to co-exist with their owners, generally demanding less attention than a dog — the more dependent of the domestic pets. “I think that’s necessary for an artist, whose focus is usually on what’s happening in the studio,” she added. “There’s a mutual respect or symbiosis … Working in the studio can be isolating sometimes. Cats bring life to a space that still provides an artist with the necessary alone time to thrive.”

The idea for the book started at Flavorwire, where Nastasi works as a weekend editor. After reading an article about Tracey Emin and her beloved cat Docket, Nastasi — whose own cat had just died — wrote a simple listicle for the website about artists and their whiskered sidekicks. Chronicle Books spotted the round-up and voila! A project was born. Nastasi sourced from libraries, photo archives and artist families to create her “family album” of sorts, featuring tender moments between animal and man.

Many of the artist-cat duos featured in Nastasi’s book predate Internet culture’s feline obsession. Not that the author has a problem with the contemporary phenomenon. “I think it’s fantastic,” she said. “Internet culture’s cat obsession has helped bring attention to various animal rescue organizations and special-needs animals that might have been previously ignored. Animal celebs like Lil BUB and Grumpy Cat help spread awareness about adoption and spaying/neutering, and have donated to various charities.”

For more on Agnès Varda and her cat Zgougou, Henri Matisse and his Minouche and Coussi, or Patti Smith and her furry guardian, check out Artists and Their Cats in its entirety. Meanwhile, here’s a preview of the compilation.

  • Georgia O’Keeffe and her cat. Photograph by John Candelario. Courtesy Palace of the Governors Photo Archives (NMHM/DCA), 165660.
  • Henri Matisse and his cat. © Robert Capa © International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos.
  • Edward Gorey and his cat. Photo by Eleanor Garvey; used by permission.
  • John Cage and his cat. Courtesy of the John Cage Trust.
  • Wanda Gag and her cat. World Telegram & Sun photo by Roger Higgins; image courtesy of the Library of Congress.
  • Florence Henri and her cat. Courtesy Archive Florence Henri/Martini & Ronchetti, Genoa.
  • Agnes Varda and her cat. Photograph by Didier Doussin; used by permission.
  • Arthur Rackham and his cats. Image courtesy of the Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University.
  • Claude Cahun and her cat. Photo courtesy of the Jersey Heritage Museum.
  • Philip Burne Jones and his cat. Photo by Bain News Service, no date listed; image courtesy of the Library of Congress.
  • World Telegram & Sun photo by Roger Higgins; image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Ann and Nancy Wilson (Heart) #Stairway To Heaven Live HD

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Ann & Nancy Wilson (Heart) Stairway To Heaven Live HD

2602519-robert-plant-led-zeppelin-press-conference-617-409

He Wrote One Of The Most Well Known Songs Of All Time. This Rendition Brought Even Him To Tears. – Even the most unlikely fans were moved to tears during this incredible performance. Honoring Led Zeppelin, and one of the most brilliantly composed songs ever written, Heart covers the classic “Stairway To Heaven”. Ann and Nancy honored the band and the song by pairing it with a brilliant orchestra and choir. This song was originally released in 1971 composed by guitarist Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. Many have called it the greatest rock song of all time. It has been voted number three on the list of 100 Greatest Rock Songs. It is estimated to have over 2.8 million radio station plays which played back to back would run for 44 years straight. Seeing Robert Plant himself being brought to tears over this rendition makes it all the more incredibly moving. What a tremendous performance!

https://youtu.be/xufuZ0dCmLA

#Dennis Hopper, drunk and stoned with six sticks of dynamite—what could possibly go wrong?

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Dennis Hopper, drunk and stoned with six sticks of dynamite—what could possibly go wrong?

05.19.2015
10:12 amTopics:
Drugs
MoviesTags:
Dennis Hopper
Dennis Hopper, drunk and stoned with six sticks of dynamite—what could possibly go wrong? In 1983 Dennis Hopper went to Rice University in Houston, Texas ostensibly to screen his latest film Out Of The Blue. But little known to anyone, other than Hopper and a handful of his buddies, he had another agenda entirely. While he did indeed screen his movie, Hopper had actually come to Houston to blow himself up.After screening Out Of The Blue, Hopper arranged to have the audience driven by a fleet of school buses to a racetrack on the outskirts of Houston, the Big H Speedway. Hopper and the buses arrived at the speedway just as the races were ending and a voice was announcing over the public address system “stick around folks and watch a famous Hollywood filmpersonalityperform the Russian Dynamite Death Chair Act. That’s right, folks, he’ll sit in a chair with six sticks of dynamite and light the fuse.”Was famous Hollywood personality Dennis Hopper about to go out with a bang?Hopper apparently learned this stunt when he was a kid after seeing it performed in a traveling roadshow. If you place the dynamite pointing outwards the explosion creates a vacuum in the middle and the person performing the stunt is, if all goes according to plan, unharmed.After bullshittingfor awhile with the crowd and his friends, a drunk and stoned Hopper climbed into the “death chair’ and lit the dynamite.A Rice News correspondent described the scene:

Dennis Hopper, at one with the shock wave, was thrown headlong in a halo of fire. For a single, timeless instant he looked like Wile E. Coyote, frazzled and splayed by his own petard. Then billowing smoke hid the scene. We all rushed forward, past the police, into the expanding cloud of smoke, excited, apprehensive, and no less expectant than we had been before the explosion. Were we looking for Hopper or pieces we could take home as souvenirs? Later Hopper would say blowing himself up was one of the craziest things he has ever done, and that it was weeks before he could hear again. At the moment, though, none of that mattered. He had been through the thunder, the light, and the heat, and he was still in one piece. And when Dennis Hopper staggered out of that cloud of smoke his eyes were glazed with the thrill of victory and spinout.

Dynamite Death Chair Act

https://youtu.be/Bh4jm0aYUPM

 

Three years later Hopper went on to an equally explosive performance playing one of the most diabolical bad guys in the history of cinema: Blue Velvet‘s Frank Booth.

 

Chevy Chase Show S01E07 part 1 09-15-1993 Dennis Hopper

https://youtu.be/McHOuOO4u7M