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.


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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25 Times Nick Viall's Instagram Game Was More Real Than Anything About 'The Bachelor'

Nick Viall is more than just his time spent on the Bachelor. He is a business man and a server of honesty.


You may remember Nick Viall as the man who made it to the final rose ceremony twice and walked away without the girl. And then finally getting his big moment on his own season of the Bachelor and the relationship ended months later.

Or you also know him for his hilarious reenactments after every episode of the current season of "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette"

But something that we can all know and respect about this man is his blatant honesty and words of encouragement.

He has a day set aside to answer any question people send into him through his Instagram. And I mean ANY question.

Sex, business, life, love, breakups, marriage, finances, self-confidence, you name it!

And while some things can be hard to hear and somethings can make us laugh because we have been through these occurrences ourself, we need to be reminded. And he doesn't hold back.

Beyond the hate and the hurtful messages, he endures and we benefit. So listen up to responses from Nick Viall's Instagram!

1. Depression.

Look outside of yourself.

2. The reality of 'Ghosting.'

I mean is he wrong?

3. Personal.

Well Nick, listen to your own advice. You are not alone and people love you.

4. Why Nick?

Because why not Nick?

5. Time to celebrate!

Celebrate your victories both huge and small!

6. Age is nothing but a number...

But don't lie about your number. Embrace it!

7. Sex questions.

Those actually sound delicious!

8. Hooking up.

Truth can hurt but seriously take it or leave it..

9. Relationship expert?

You don't have to agree.

10. Flashback to his time on "The Bachelor."

if you haven't seen the ensemble we are talking about you can do two things. 1.) Be grateful! 2.) Google

11. Single on the holidays.

If you need one more reminder that you are not alone let me assist you...You are NOT alone!

12.  Health.

Drinking water actually makes a HUGE difference in all things health! Shocker.

13. "Not Good Enough."

Sometimes you have to kiss a few frogs to find your princess or prince. There's no rush or pressure. Follow your heart.

14. Settling.

Sometimes you have to have the question thrown back at you to think deeper.

15. Finances.

"I need" and " I want" statements really help when it comes to spending and saving money.

16. Unfaithful.

Don't be a dick. You're wasting your poor fiance's time. Give them their freedom if they are simply second choice.

17. Take control of your life!

Don't make yourself the victim! Take back the control and find pride in yourself. You can do it.

18. Boredom in the marriage.

No he's never been married (or so he lets us think) but his answers are relatable and reasonable.

19. Soulmates.

Yup go find another soulmate not one that's already taken. You're not doomed.

20. Receiving mixed signals.

May not always be the case but you need to listen to your gut and follow your heart.

21. Mental health.

You are NOT ALONE! There are people who want to simply listen to you. seek them out. Don't give up. You can do this!

22. Home weckers.

Is this clear enough?

23. Small talk.

You're going to spend your whole life hopefully happily with someone who you are going to do a lot of talking with. It's never too early. Be true to yourself.

24. This tea burns!

If you really don't want to hear an answer don't ask.

25. Businessman.

He is more than a bachelor he is a businessman! You can never go wrong with some essential oils in your life.

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Calling Out Everyday Injustice And Discrimination Doesn't Make Us 'Too Sensitive'

It's important to remember that in the fight for social justice we cannot normalize casual racism for the sake of friends and we cannot normalize misogyny and sexual misconduct for the sake of the artists we admire.


Lately, any glimpse of the news is unsettling: a government shutdown, sexual abuse accusations against R. Kelly, debates over border control and tax cuts that benefit the wealthy. In our society, every newest scandal or political blunder is a headline, and if you spend too much time reading up on current news it's almost impossible to not feel that our country is spiraling into a collapse of some kind. On both sides of the political and belief spectrum, many take to social media to express their viewpoints on each new situation. Some post cries of outrage and demand that their voices be heard and that justice be served. Others sneer that we have developed into a hypersensitive culture that can't handle a joke. Do we really need to toughen up, or are people just uncomfortable that blatantly discriminatory and oppressive comments are no longer tolerated?

People who tend to hold more conservative viewpoints also tend to say the same things. Casually dropped "N" words, sexist jokes, and homophobic comments are alarmingly prevalent in circles of straight, white friend groups, especially when men are involved. Still, most of these people would not consider themselves hateful, and are always quick to defend themselves whether its by saying "no one who uses the 'F' word is actually talking about gay people" or "it makes me more uncomfortable to say 'N' word so I just say the real word" or "chill out it's not that deep." These are only a small selection of the ignorant defensives I've heard when I've challenged a poor "joke." Our society has progressed and given many powerless victims a voice, but a large number of people who don't have a concept of what oppression actually still think that to end the racist, sexist, homophobic dialogue we have casually used for so long is a step too far.

Sometimes it is hard to know where to draw the line, especially when it seems that every time I look at my phone another beloved artist, actor, writer, or prominent figure is accused of something horrible. Still, it is important to remember that in the fight for social justice we cannot normalize casual racism for the sake of friends and we cannot normalize misogyny and sexual misconduct for the sake of the artists we admire.

Comedians Aziz Ansari and Louis C.K. were both outed by the #MeToo movement for misconduct of varying degrees. While Louis C.K. faced public disgrace for masturbating in front of multiple women without being asked to, Aziz was criticized by a past date for being too forceful and pressuring her to have sex. In the case of Aziz, many may argue that the Me Too Movement has gone too far, but Aziz was a self-proclaimed feminist who performed many skits that addressed the creepiness of men, so his actions seem hypocritical and disappointing. After his fall from fame, his return to the spotlight attacked those he considered to be "overly woke" and he did not seem sorry, only persecuted. Similarly, Louis C.K., a man who has expressed himself to be anti-Trump in the past and who has always portrayed himself as self-aware, did nothing but trash "sensitive" liberals after he was exposed.

Our society is not becoming too sensitive and we do not need to grow a thicker skin. For the first time, those with some kind of power are being called out for the ways they mishandle it, and they don't like it. The only way to continue to level the playing field and empower victims is to continue the conversation on these previously normalized issues and to hold people accountable when they cross the line. However, in situations like Aziz's we can ask people to be self-aware and to apologize in a meaningful way, and then accept and understand that anyone can grow or change. The way to invoke change is not the condemnation of every person who makes a mistake, but it is also not okay to write people off as overly sensitive. Education, conversation, and empowering those who have been harmed will pave the road to a better society because it doesn't stop here.

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