NEWS 2000

AOL Chat 10/10/2000

Host: We welcome thousands of people to AOL Live, but Stephen... it's especially nice to have you back and well and TYPING. Ready to tell us the secrets of writing?

SKing: It's good to be doing those things. And yes, I'm ready to tell you all my dirty little secrets.

Host: Let's shock some people right off.... You say, in ON WRITING, that the most valuable "class" you had was 10 minutes with John Gould, a high school teacher. How so?

SKing: I wrote a sports piece. Basically, what he did was take out all the flowery language. He cut it to the bone. Basic information, in other words. And that's where you start. Next.

Host: You go a little further. For example, you HATE adverbs. Why?

SKing: Adverbs always communicate one idea to me, and that's that the writer isn't sure he's getting it across. And a lot of times, they're redundant. If I say, "Jessie slammed the door loudly...well, duh. A slammed door usually is loud. Again, writing is about communicating what you see and hear and feel, doing it as simply as possible, and ALWAYS TELLING THE TRUTH. Okay?

Host: Okay! One more from me, and then our members will have at you..... "That's so cool." Why do you hate that?

SKing: I like slang, but I don't like phrases that are shortcuts. Don't tell me "That's so cool," tell me how you feel. Tell me what blisses you out. $

Host: Ok, here's one from Chiliwidle: "It stands to reason you are my favorite author, mainly because you breathe life into your characters and your stories are hypnotizing. Who is your favorite author and why?"

SKing: I like a lot of different writers, and I've listed a bunch of them at the end of ON WRITING. For sheer dependability, I think you can't go wrong with Elmore Leonard or Ed McBain. Another very dependable writer is Nora Roberts. She writes a lot, and the girl is GOOD. Next?

Host: Stephen, EVERYONE is asking this, so let's take care of it up front. Krishna asks: "I just want to know how are you feeling now after your accident?"

SKing: I feel pretty well, for someone who was basically crushed on a line down the right side of my body. I've still got a lot of pain in my right hip, but I walk pretty well. Limp noticably at the end of the day, though. As the late Walter Brennan used to say, "I've got a hitch in my gitalong." I'm glad to be as well as I am. I got lucky. Next?

Host: Good to hear. Here's one from Saralbe: "Do you plan how your books are going to end, before you start them?"

SKing: I usually have an idea of where I'm going, but I like to leave all the possibilities open. If the characters are doing their job, they start to drive the story. Then it might end up anywhere. The best thing is that if I don't know just what's going to happen, then the readers usually don't, either. Next Q?

Host: From Jim Ballingall: "What advice do you have for "up and coming" writers?"

SKing: Write a lot and read a lot. Try not to get discouraged. Next Question?

Host: from Bellassz: "When you first started writing how did you go about getting your work published? Was it difficult?"

SKing: I think that getting published is always difficult, and that luck plays a part. You have to send the RIGHT story to the RIGHT place...and at the RIGHT time. The best advice I can give is to keep those stories working. Make a list of possible markets and keep sending them around. Don't start at PLAYBOY and the ATLANTIC MONTHLY, either. Read the little magazines. DON'T send to magazines you haven't read. It's like shooting in the dark. You're apt to plug your mother-in-law. Next Q?

Host: From Higley: "I just finished "On Writing." It was excellent, but you never really discussed point of view. It's one area that often confuses me in writing fiction. How many POV's can/should one use when writing?"

SKing: You can use one point of view or many. I think it's best to use either the first person ("I sat down") or the third person restricted. ("He sat down.") There are lots of others, including third person omneiscient, but do you really want to play God when you're first starting out? Next Q? Next?

Host: Boy, I hope you all are taking notes out there because there's going to be a quiz and I don't think Mr. King grades on a curve.

SKing: Jesse is kicking butt and taking down names.

Host: From ARobin: "In what way do you select/devise a story line for a book?"

SKing: I usually start with a situation, and just see where it leads. It's like pulling a thread out of a mousehole. Sometimes there's a treasure at the end, sometimes just a ball of dust. The fun is getting there. In MISERY, I started with a basic situation of a man stuck in a bed, held prisoner by a psychotic fan. That was all I had. The story built itself, day by day. Then, during the rewriting process, I just kinda whacked off the rough edges. Next Q?

Host: Speaking of school, you deliberately use lots of -- uh --- cuss words so there is NO DANGER this will be used in high school English classes. Why?

SKing: Yes, there are a fair number of Anglo-Saxonisms in the book. I wanted to make it tough, in a way, for teachers to use it. I think the most valuable things writers learn about their craft are learned OUTSIDE the classroom. Not that you can't learn. If I thought that, writing a book like this would've been a waste of time. Next?

Host: Lots of members want to know: Will there be more of "The Plant?"

SKing: Yes, there will be more "Plant." The pay-through rate is standing just above 75 per cent, which was my cut-off line. The response has been strong. I may not finish the whole thing on line, but I think we're a go for at least October and November. And the next parts are really long. The November episode will probably cost two bucks. Next Q?

Host: A little birdie tweeted "miniseries." You have one in the works?

SKing: It's called ROSE RED. It's shooting right now.

Host: "On Writing" also has large sections of autobiography.... Does this mean you'll never write one?

SKing: I can't imagine writing a full-scale autobiography! Too much of it would be, "Steve sat in a chair, bangin' on the keyboard." Next ?

Host: Two more and you pass the AOL Live writing course....

SKing: Whew!

Host: From Nazelhair: "When is the next installment of the Dark Tower series coming out?"

SKing: I need to start working on the next volume, tentatively called "The Crawling Shadow," in January or February. I'm a little scared to go back in, because I don't want to screw up. Next ?

Host: And finally, you know as much about music as Eric Clapton.... and you write with the music on.... what is in your CD now?

SKing: Right now I'm listening to Everclear. Tomorrow is Dwight Yokam. And the day after that...who knows???


Host: We WON'T say 'That's so cool" --- even if it was.

Thanks to Brian Freeman and Rosandra Montequin for sending it!