stephen king advice that'll help you write your first novel

stephen king advice that'll help you write your first novel

King is the King for a reason, and he has some practical advice that newbies often miss.

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As an aspiring author, it became very clear to me very early on in my first draft that I needed all the help I could get. I started taking writing classes and reading about writing. Out of all the tips and tricks I've learned from professors and other authors, one book stands alone in its ability to change the way I thought about writing. That book is Stephen King's "On Writing."

It should be no surprise that Stephen King has written one of the best books about writing out there; he's written over 50 novels, has sold around 350 million copies worldwide, and has a net worth of $400 million. If anyone is a worthy teacher of creative writing, it's unequivocally Stephen King, even if he admits he doesn't follow his own rules all of the time. So, for all of you writers out there who haven't taken a look at "On Writing" yet, I've cataloged the tips from the novel that I've found most helpful in my writing.

Tip #1: Your 1st draft has three months to live.

Three months - the length of a season. That's how long Stephen King believes you should work on a 1st draft; any longer, and the story can become stale. This also forces you to set up a daily writing goal. King says he tries to write at least 1500 words a day (although we all know he probably exceeds this goal by a large margin). For the beginner, he recommends at least 1000. It takes some practice to cultivate the habit, but once you do, writing becomes more natural, and you'll finish your 1st draft sooner than later.

Tip #2: Dig instead of plot.

"When, during an interview for The New Yorker, I told the interviewer (Mark Singer) that I believed stories are found things, like fossils in the ground, he said that he didn't believe me. I replied that that was fine, as long as he believed that I believe it. And I do. Stories aren't souvenir tee-shirts or Game Boys. 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."

Although he admits that he has plotted some of his novels, he doesn't believe you need an extremely detailed outline to succeed. It's alright to just have a few main events in mind, and figure out the rest of the story as you go. This way of thinking about the plot changed everything for me. I was so convinced that I had to have a complete and rigid outline before I could start my novel. This is not so. Giving myself the freedom to breathe has made writing so much easier for me, and I'm no longer wasting time being hung up on my outline.

Tip #3: The 1st draft is exclusively for you.

"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." Don't worry about anyone else's opinions during the 1st draft. Discover the story you want to write, and then revise it for an audience.

Tip #4: Abandon your 1st draft after you've written it.

Don't panic, DON'T PANIC! You'll get back to it - in 6 weeks or so.

"If you've never done it before, you'll find reading your book over after a six-week layoff to be a strange, often exhilarating experience. It's yours, you'll recognize it as yours, even be able to remember what tune was on the stereo when you wrote certain lines, and yet it will also be like reading the work of someone else, a soul-twin, perhaps. This is the way it should be, the reason you waited. It's always easier to kill someone else's darlings than it is to kill your own."

Tip #5: Avoid the passive voice.

I know all of the English teachers you've ever had have tried to pound this through your head, but it's worth repeating.

"Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe. The timid fellow writes "The meeting will be held at seven o'clock" because that somehow says to him, 'Put it this way, and people will believe you really know.' Purge this quisling thought! Don't be a muggle! Throw back your shoulders, stick out your chin, and put that meeting in charge! Write 'The meeting's at seven.' There, by God! Don't you feel better?"

Tip #6: Read people, read!

"You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write."

To remedy this problem, I'd suggest reading instead of watching TV. Although I do believe TV and film have something important to teach writers regarding storytelling, they can't teach you nearly as much about the craft of writing as reading can. I'd also bring a book with you wherever you go - you never know when you'll have some spare time.

Tip #7: Research belongs in the background.

"If you do need to do research because parts of your story deal with things about which you know little or nothing, remember that word back. That's where research belongs: as far in the background and the back story as you can get it. You may be entranced with what you're learning about the flesh-eating bacteria, the sewer system of New York, or the I.Q. potential of collie pups, but your readers are probably going to care a lot more about your characters and your story."

In other words, research should be used to enrich your story, not be the story.

Tip #8: Scrap the boring parts.

"Mostly when I think of pacing, I go back to Elmore Leonard, who explained it so perfectly by saying he just left out the boring parts."

Every detail included in your narrative should be beneficial in some way - whether it furthers the plot or is used in character development, every little event or description should serve a purpose. If it doesn't, feel free to go to town on that delete key.

Tip #9: Writing is what makes you a writer.

Pretty self-explanatory, I think. The definition of a writer is someone who writes.

Tip #10: Write for the happiness.

"Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink."

Find these tips helpful? There's more.

Every tip and quote I used in this article can be found in King's novel "On Writing," and there's even more in the novel that I didn't include that's worth studying. I'd highly recommend grabbing a copy.

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Not Saying She Isn't Spoiled, But Olivia Jade Is A Victim Of Her Parents' Poor Choices

Because of decisions her parents made, she has not only been made a laughing stock but the face of major scrutiny.

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If you watch any TV or are on any social media platforms, you've heard about the Lori Loughlin scandal that alleges she paid a total of $1 million to get her daughters into college.

It's truly crazy, but at the same time, I always suspected this type of bribery and deceit happened, not necessarily with this family but with other well-to-do people. I grew up knowing education and life were political, and I mean, look at all the rich students in Harvard and Yale. You really think all of them got in because they scored perfect scores on the SATs?

No. It's because their parents basically paid for their education and then some, too. More often than not, those parents are generally alumni as well, who got into school themselves the same way they're handling their children's education: through money.

What's sad, though, to me is that as someone who attends college, works hard for their education and has student loans, these parents don't realize the true shame to their actions. The ironic part is that they thought it would be more shameful for their children to not go to college than for them to be bought in.

What's ultimately shameful is that these parents didn't believe in their children's abilities and dreams.

I'm not a fan of Olivia Jade, who is the daughter of Lori Loughlin and whose education was bought. I've seen her face pop up on YouTube and Instagram once or twice, but I never paid much attention to her.

Even though I don't follow her, I still feel bad for her. Because her parents forced her hand into this education debauchery, she has taken the brunt of the storm, too.

Across social media, she has been shamed for this scandal, for not wanting education and for being spoiled. Her YouTube videos are being clipped into 15-second cuts of her saying she didn't want to go to school, that her parents ultimately forced her to go, and how the only parts she looks forward to are the parties and football games.

But honestly, if I was doing the thing I love without needing an education, I wouldn't go to college either.

I think people forget that education is a choice. Just because she didn't want to go doesn't mean she's stupid. Although her job as a social media influencer may seem like a joke to many, that joke pays hundreds of thousands of people each year millions of dollars.

As the saying goes, work smarter not harder.

Anyone who hates on social media influencers are really just jealous, maybe not of the role itself, but of the money it brings for the seemingly little work they do for it.

Education truly is subjective. Some people learn better in classrooms, some people learn better doing hands-on work. For social media influencers, it's learning from the trade and other people who do the same profession as well.

The job may not be the most respectable work I've seen, but it's something that supports families worldwide and allows people to fulfill their dreams of traveling, acting, working on video, becoming photographers and sharing advice. You know, just because this may not be mine or everyone else's dream jobs doesn't mean that it isn't someone else's.

It's easy to criticize people for their actions and dreams, but I find that the people who attack others the most understand the least.

Did Lori Loughlin do a really despicable thing to her daughters? Honestly, yeah. If my parents didn't believe I could amount to much without education and couldn't do it on my own, I would be heartbroken. I'm sure her daughters feel this too, and now on top of it, they're the laughing stock of social media for not only being "stupid," but for being more rich kids who depend on their mommies and daddies for everything.

What's crazy is that Olivia is already worth $300,000 at 19 years old, while I'm 22 and have $15 dollars to my name (not literally, but you get the point). Everyone's attacking this girl, but looking at her numbers, I'm thinking she's doing something right.

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If You 'Cancel' Amber Heard Before The Facts Are Out, You're Part Of Why 'Cancel Culture' Is So Toxic

It is hypocritical to call "cancel culture" toxic in the case of Johnny Depp only to call for Amber Heard to be "canceled" before the lawsuit has even been settled.

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In May 2016, Amber Heard accused Johnny Depp of domestic abuse. Many chose to "cancel" Depp following the allegations, causing his career to suffer. Now, nearly three years later, Depp has filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against Heard after Heard's op-ed detailing the difficulty women face in speaking out about domestic abuse. He denies ever abusing Heard and has presented evidence, including surveillance camera footage and testimony from multiple witnesses. He also claims that Heard abused him, accusing her of violent actions such as punching him while he was in bed and causing a severe hand injury after throwing a bottle at him.

Many have taken to social media to support Depp and condemn Heard. Among this wave of support are comments apologizing for "canceling" Depp without enough evidence. Others assert that they believed Depp all along and knew that Heard was lying from the start. Both parties condemn "cancel culture."

The lawsuit has not yet come to a conclusion, and those who say that people were too quick to "cancel" Johnny Depp should extend the same courtesy to Amber Heard. Depp definitely seems to have brought forth much substantial evidence, even pictures of proofs of injuries inflicted by Heard, and his evidence seems more substantial than Heard, but his allegations are still just allegations. Furthermore, it is very possible for both parties to have been abusive towards each other, in which case both Depp and Heard are in the wrong. It would be best to wait for the lawsuit to conclude. After all, if Depp was condemned and shamed by the public too soon, it seems illogical to do the same to Heard. It is hypocritical to call "cancel culture" toxic in the case of Johnny Depp only to call for Amber Heard to be "canceled" before the lawsuit has even been settled.

This is not to say Amber Heard or Johnny Depp is decidedly innocent. If Heard really did abuse Depp, the case is very reminiscent of that of Jussie Smollet. Heard's actions will make it much more difficult for women who are actual victims of domestic abuse to speak up and are certainly a setback for the #MeToo movement, which Heard has been a spokesperson for. It would also be very regrettable to find that Depp was accused of abuse when he, himself, was the victim. It could also be that both were abusive towards each other.

However, Heard should not be "canceled" before the lawsuit ends. If we wish to condemn "cancel culture" as toxic and damaging, it is only fair to keep from "canceling" Amber Heard until there has been a decisive end to the lawsuit.

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