Learning to write from Stephen King


People often ask me when I will write my first book. They don’t know that I already have 6th and 7th grade terrific titles such as “Xerox! Space Adventure!” And “The Hobbit” (rewritten and paraphrased in graphite and crayon). And yes, I still have them.

As a first-grader in 1974 (and really until after grad school),  the only books I enjoyed were those with pictures, princesses, and an accompanying 45 record that would chime “gggling” when I was to turn the page. Those were a great escape during many sick elementary school days of tonsillitis, penicillin, and Mormon Bullykid Fever in Bountiful, Utah.

“Gentile” was code for Infidel. Anyone caught being an Infidel (5 of us in total of 1200 kids) was Going To Hell and should be Killed Immediately. That there were large, round, fluvial rocks and creeks on the way home was ideal for the Mormon Bullykids; nothing quite like the feel of smooth stone on the back or head.

Luckily, my older sister was thin and athletic and held Them at bay so I could make my Daily Escape.

One day, as a fat 4th grade kid, I wasn’t so lucky. The Mormon Bullykids pushed my head onto black ashphalt and after the blood had cleared, my front teeth turned grey. We showed My Grey Teeth to the Dentist who swore that soon, The Grey Teeth would just fall out and in a matter of days, I could be transformed into Farrah Fawcett, who, we all knew, had Fake Teeth.

Instead, The Grey Teeth not only stayed, but moved around so that the right one was backwards, and I got braces and a Flowery Headgear Tooth Ensemble to go along with the Daily Death Threats.

In 1978, we moved to a town of 3,000 called Emmett, Idaho and one day I dared to wear the Flowery Tooth Ensemble to the IGA. Heads spun, but not in a good “Hey, here comes Olivia Newton John!” down the meat aisle type way; more of “Ugly-Mouthed Aliens Attack!” kind of horror.

Fifth and 6th grade; ah, those are some hideous chapters involving Being Tall and other frightening thinks like puberty and Jupiter. Perhaps a future post.

*****

The first suggested author I’m reading is Stephen King-“On Writing”. I enjoyed including some cringeworthy elementary school horror in my story. Some techniques he seems to use:

real places and times, stories of sickness in childhood and proper names for people, situations, or inanimate objects like

*The Cinder Block

*My Ear on a Diaper

Made up names of people he cannot remember or called them that in his childhood:

*Buh-Buhlah

Other things he uses are combinations of syllables like 3 single syllables:

Black dark moon

Or combo of one,three, three

Black, shimmering, eventful

I have to trust that I’ll get better at these, but in the meantime, Seth Godin says “write how you speak” for a blog.

I suspect it will be a Combination of Both in 2017.


Image modified from South Park. Comedy Central.

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