AP Language & Composition
August 18, 2014
Basic Rules on Becoming a Better Writer
“I don’t believe writers can be made, either by circumstances or by self-will” (18). This quote by Stephen King suggests that a person doesn’t have to be born a good writer; they can be made into one. This statement comes from his memoir “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”, in which he helps a beginning writer become better. King has many distinguished ideas in the autobiography. His central argument is that a writer must practice his/her writing skills, write about subjects they are most familiar with, and limit descriptions in order to give the reader their own image.
To begin, King verbalizes you should write what you know. “…begin by writing what you love to read” (158). I concur with this statement. How can you write about a genre you are not familiar with? You should try to write a type of fiction that you are completely comfortable with. For example, if you enjoy reading non-fictional books, you’re more likely to write a non-fictional story. If you love reading romantic novels, you’ll want to write a romance book. King feels that writing a certain topic only to impress someone or make a lot or money is not a good idea. Writers who are intimately familiar with their subject become more confident, as a result, they receive strong results. You are more likely to do better writing a genre you enjoy than one that’s not as appealing to you. Knowing your subject personally gives you an advantage against the reader. The reader may not be able to connect with the story as well as you can. The author
Wilkinson 2 reminds us, “What you know makes you unique in some other way. Be brave. Map the enemy’s positions, come back, tell us all what you know” (162). Your ideas are the more important than a colleagues or a friend. Let your imagination run free and compose whatever genre that is soothing to you.
Next, “If you want to be a successful writer, you must be able to describe…” (174). Description creates a vivid picture for the reader. It allows them to imagine themselves within your story. Good description makes a reader feel as though they are in the story. The reader must be able to obtain a clear scene while reading the book. King feels that although good description is great, too much can ruin a story. The author reminds us that, the harder you try to be descriptive, the less interesting the book will become. “When a reader puts a story aside because it “got boring,” the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep the ball rolling” (178). Description doesn’t have to fill page after page. It could merely be a sentence or two, or a simple thrive that will excite the reader’s imagination. King feels that thin description leaves the reader feeling bewildered but over-description buries the reader in details. There will be occasions where longer descriptions are required, for example, if you need to express the setting of the scene and the atmosphere of it. A story without description is unemotional and tiring. Your reader needs to know what look, places, smell, feelings, and thoughts. They also need to know what things feel and taste like. Readers want to feel the emotion, to smile, to gasp…all of these are created through description.
Lastly, King states that in order to be a good writer, you must read a lot and write a lot. It helps you