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The 19 Best Writing Tips from Stephen King

by janeausten
The 19 Best Writing Tips from Stephen King

1. Start Your Story Where the Action Starts

The first sentence should come as close to the story’s start as possible. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how many writers will start a novel in chapter three or four. The opening line should be a door that opens onto the main storyline. Everything before then is foreplay. Get to it!

2. Always have a Plan B

You’ve got to be ready for anything when you start working with writing tips because you never know what will happen next. If you’re not prepared for an unexpected event, you’ll find yourself going back and rewriting your novel from scratch. That can be fatal if you’re halfway through and don’t have time to rewrite everything from beginning to end again. So keep an open mind about what happens next; always think about what could happen next; always stay alert for surprises and opportunities; always be ready for anything that comes along, good or bad, and make sure your characters are too!

3. Write With The Door Closed, And Rewrite With The Door Open

This is one of my favorite quotes from Stephen King because it perfectly sums up his philosophy on writing tips: Start by writing whatever comes to mind, then revise later to make sure everything makes sense. Put all your ideas down on paper before you start editing or revising anything; don’t get caught up in trying to write perfectly from the start because you’ll never finish anything if you do that!

4. Write A Great Opening As Soon As Possible

The opening sentences of a novel are important. They must immediately grab the readers’ attention and make them want to keep reading. If your first sentence doesn’t do that, throw it out and try again until you find something that does work (or keep it in case you ever revise this story).

5. Avoid Adverbs And Motionless Dialogue

If you find that you’ve used the same word too many times (and I do this), the best way to fix it is just to take out all the ‘ly’s,” King says in an interview with The Guardian. “You’ll be amazed at what happens.”

6. Find The Right Angle Of Vision

You don’t have to be very smart to write a novel that sells well and becomes a bestseller. You need discipline, a willingness to learn from your mistakes, and an open mind about how stories are told. So many writers think they know what will work for them before they even try it, which is why they fail to find their voice and never make it past their first book.

7. Say “You,” Not “It”

One noticeable thing about King’s writing tips is that he uses “you” much more than other writers do. When he talks about characters or events, he does it in a way that makes you feel as though you’re there with them, like you’re experiencing what they’re experiencing. He does this by saying things like, “You see,” or “You don’t want to go there,” or (and most importantly), “You don’t know what happened next.” This type of language helps readers feel their presence is required for the story’s progress.

8. Start Your Novel In Medias Res

Another helpful writing tip from King is to start your novel in the media’s res, Latin for “in the middle of things.” This means beginning your story with action rather than exposition or background information; if you can get right into it without any setup, all the better!

9. Take Some Breaks

King writes 1,000 words daily, but he breaks between writing sessions. He says that taking a break allows him to get away from his work and come back with fresh eyes and a new perspective when he returns to it.

10. Keep It Simple

Don’t try to be too fancy or clever with your writing tips; tell your story as clearly as possible, using short sentences and paragraphs so your reader can follow along easily without getting lost in flowery language or trying to figure out what you meant.

11. Know What Your Characters Want

Know what your characters want, and make them suffer when they don’t get it! In other words, give them an arc that takes them from point A (where they start) through point B (where they end up).

12. Let Your Characters Speak For Themselves

Another among many writing tips; is when writing dialogue, try not to explain what your characters think or feel; let them do it through their words and actions instead. “If you let your characters tell their stories in their voices,” King says, “they’ll be more interesting.”

13. Don’t Make Excuses For Yourself Or Anyone Else

‘I’m just not good at this is an excuse,” says King. ” ‘You’re just not trying hard enough is encouragement.” Don’t give up on something because it’s too hard or someone else says it can’t be done; keep trying until you get it right.

14. When To Stop Revising And Start Submitting The Work

Learn when to stop revising and start submitting your work. When revising a piece of writing, constantly ask yourself if it could be better, but don’t overdo it.

15. Take A Day Off Every Week

Stephen King takes Sundays off from writing. After five days of writing tips, he says, “I need to walk away for a bit before I go back at it with fresh eyes and renewed energy.”

16. Don’t Be Lazy

Stephen King writes every day, even on his vacations! “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read and write a lot. In that order. It’s impossible to become the professional book writers without reading extensively and voraciously.”

17. You Need To Read A Lot

Stephen King says that reading is essential for writers because it gives them story ideas. He reads around fifty books per year, which is why he doesn’t feel too guilty when he takes breaks from writing tips!

18. Write What You Know

Stephen King writes about horror because he knows it well. He has spent many years exploring the dark side of humanity, and his books reflect this experience. If you want to write about a subject that is unfamiliar to you, don’t try to fake it; instead, find someone who can teach you about it or learn more about it yourself so that when you write about it, people will believe your story because they know that your knowledge comes from firsthand experience.

19. Find The Right Time Of Day To Write

King wrote a lot during his childhood because he was bored with schoolwork and had nothing else to do at home. He started writing tips; for The Shining while living in New England and working on its sequel while living in Colorado. He wrote The Stand while living in Maine and Denver, Colorado, respectively; The Dead Zone while living in Florida; Misery while living in Maine; etc… You get the idea!


King’s writing tips on how to be a better writer are valuable because it comes from someone who knows what works and has written over 50 novels and hundreds of short stories.

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