Quote Of The Day: Weekend Reading

Quote Of The Day #47

I’ve tried to read a scary book like “Dead Zone”, “1922”, or “Full Dark, No Stars” by Stephen King, but I ended up reading “11/22/63”, “Different Seasons”, and “On Writing”. None of the three books are scary. The last one is not intended to scare people, but rather it is a description of those moments in the author’s life that were most influential to him. And paradoxically, in this book about writing, the author expresses his opinion in plain words: writing cannot be taught, or something to that effect.

There are many interesting advice in the book and the advice I like most is about how much he reads and what kind of books he reads. He says that he reads about 70 to 80 books a year and reading is very important to his writing. Also he says he only reads fictions. I think “only reading fiction” really hits me. This is where I realize that I have not been very focused in my reading: I read non-fiction, history, poetry too. And fiction is not what I really concentrate my energy on.

The advice that is not really useful to me is his schedule–he writes every morning until noon or 1:30PM. Every day he writes 2000 words. For me, I can’t really have a schedule. When I have a schedule to write, I just don’t feel like doing it at the designated time. I don’t know why but this is something I can’t overcome. I guess I just have to continue to explore different ways to deal with myself.

Overall, it is an enjoyable book. I feel particularly gratifying when the author mentioned “Dead Zone” several times, which is a book I really enjoyed. I watched several online fan videos on the author’s book, but each of them put “Dead Zone” in the bottom of the rank. I just can’t believe it. I mean one really cannot trust these fan videos very much.

There are many interesting quotes in this book:

“Good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky. Two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job is not to find these ideas, but to recognize them when they show up.”

“Buy a copy of ‘Writer’s Digest’ or ‘Writer’s Market’, the most valuable tools for the writers new to the marketplace. If you are really poor, ask someone to give it to you for Christmas… The most important thing you can do for yourself is to read the market. Submitting stories without first read the market is like playing darts in a dark room.”

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” I don’t think I agree with this. The author also says passive voice is bad. I don’t actually agree with that either. For a non-native speaker like me, I subscribe to “whatever works”. I don’t see the difference between nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, passive or active voice. Also the different word forms often come from the same source. For example, needlessly (adv) comes from needless (adj) and need (noun, verb). Another example, usefully comes from useful (adv), use(noun, verb). I guess I am missing something that a native speaker can see but a non-native speaker cannot.

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” I think I can’t do this. I know throwing away is as important as writing itself, but it is very hard for me to throw away anything. I am quite a hoarder and throwing any line away is a heartbreaking thing to do.

“If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered.”

3 thoughts on “Quote Of The Day: Weekend Reading

  1. It’s not like that book was written today. Like the writers guide used to be “the way” to go prior to the advent of the internet.


  2. When Stephen King and other writers give advice about adverbs and passive voice, they are telling you to write vividly and authoritatively. I have read your writing. I don’t think you have a problem in these areas.

    Passive voice is bad when a person writes a sentence like “The lamp is broken.” when they could write “The third time that Billy threw the baseball in the living room, his little brother stumbled and knocked over the lamp smashing it on the floor.”

    And adverbs are bad when a person writes “Billy threw the ball poorly.” when they could write “The third time that Billy threw the baseball in the living room, his little brother stumbled and knocked over the lamp smashing it on the floor.”

    Liked by 2 people

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