During a Christmas vacation, I concurrently read:
- Stephen King “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” , and
- Elizabeth George “Write Away: One Novelist’s Approach to Fiction and the Writing Life“.
Two very different writers with two very different approaches to their craft. But I learned a number of crucial things from listening to them both.
First and foremost, trust your body and your sub-conscious. If it does not feel right, no matter how much thinking energy you have invested in it, it is highly likely that it is not right from a writing perspective.
Second, who you are has a great deal to do with how you write. King and George are very different people. They share very different approaches, and provide advice which appears contradictory at time. I started to roughly work out their the Competency Styles profile which I created years ago. I now use it as part of my character planning work.
I believe that I am closer to George than I am to King on these competency preferences. Therefore, it makes sense to me that George’s approach to the craft appeals to me more than King’s. But the lesson for me is that there is no one way to write, but a way to write that is right for each author.
Each person has to work out or to discover a personal approach to the novelist’s craft. Each new author has to learn how to make the creative choices that are needed to address the structural elements that make a novel work (the structural relationships between plots and sub-plots, balancing plot movement versus character development, …. …). I have a way to go before I am there. Welcome to the joys of re-writing.
Finally, your life will infuse your writing. King has a car accident that resulted in major physical trauma and recovery, and then writes “Duma Key“. George spends time visiting her settings in England and writes in depth about the look and feel of the English countryside, even though she lives in the US.
As a result, I am deeply re-affirmed in my decisions to make major changes to the way I write ficton. Thank you Ms. George and Mr. King for writing these two books and seeing them through to publication.