If you’re an avid reader, or better; a fan of the horror genre, you have definitely heard of Stephen King’s work. It’s safe to say that not many writers have had the luxury to experience King’s level of success and global acclaim. A few of his most noteworthy novels being “The Shining” and “It” garnering so much attention and thrall that they were made into motion pictures a mere decade after their publication.
Want to know what it takes to write like the masters? Not any random writer, want to know how to write like Stephen King; the hailed master of the horror genre? If so, strap yourselves in because we’re in for a very rough; yet enlightening ride.
1. Write for yourself; then worry about the audience
In his words exactly : “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”
I know, I know. This sounds akin to something out of an old philosophy book from the dark ages, but I’ll do my best to explain.
What Stephen King is trying to say, is essentially that you must first be able to tell yourself a coherent story before you worry about trying to craft it for an audience’s tastes. Thinking about this in retrospect, it makes a whole lot of sense after you actually begin writing. Stephen just shows and highlights how important it is for the author to be able to create a strong, coherent and interesting story before he edits it to match the desires of a target audience. You begin to realise this as you start writing virtually anything for anyone.
If you already planned out what terms to use; what tone to integrate; and what descriptions to liken, it all doesn’t matter if you can’t put an interesting story together in the first place.
Therefore, the first step is to ensure you have a crystal clear idea of what you’re going to write; then write it again in a way that’s catered to your audience.
2. Never use the Passive voice
There really isn’t that much to it.
At the basis of virtually everything we do, lies an emotion or set of emotions. This is undeniable. So if you wish to invoke a strong sense of emotion in your writing, for the love of god; avoid using the passive voice.
Think back to your absolute worst lecturer you had in your tertiary study days. That one lecturer that drones on and on for hours at end and refused to give you a break so they could finish reciting the session’s content in his or her uniquely boring monotone. Now imagine having to have to sit through a session of this lecturer; permanently.
I honestly won’t be surprised if I go to hell and I just see my old crone staring at the board and vomiting words in her awful drone.
Then again, people use the passive voice like a go – to tone because it is the safest choice; not because it is impartial and can’t offend anyone, but because it’s just a dead manner of conveying a message. Which ties in perfectly with our next point.
3. Be fearless with your work
Put simply, the writing which you do is a result of your own creativity, skill and a representation of your personal style. As quoted by the master himself ; “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing” and frankly speaking it’s true!
Newer writers and copywriters alike all have the same fear of writing something that they feel may not agree with their audiences and therefore forsake it all. Avoid doing these at all costs, because you are already forfeiting what makes you unique as a writer; and that is sure to condemn whatever you write to failure.
Why do you think people around the world all have their favourite writers within the same genre? Take the horror spectrum for instance.
2 of the hallmarks of this genre being H.P Lovecraft and Stephen King. They both write within the same genre but have vastly differing styles of writing; which garners them different supporters.
Thus, be fearless and you’ll immediately stand out from the rest of the crowd; making your first step towards writing like a professional novelist.