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Awesome, awesome writing advice

16 Aug

The best piece of writing advice I ever got was from my high school journalism teacher. It went, simply, “Kill your darlings.”

The idea is that, as a writer, we come up with these lines or paragraphs or stories that, for one reason or another, we love. We find them brilliant or witty. We think they showcase our writing ability in a wonderful and perfect and ideal way.

And yet, they are a detriment to the story. They add nothing. They’re superfluous, and wordy and the piece, as a whole, benefits from its quick elimination. They are masturbatory prose.

But, but … it’s your darling.

Kill it. Kill it hard, kill it fast, kill it good.

Being this kind of self editor is hard, but it makes us much better writers.

I found this bit of writing advice on Buzz Feed that gave me heart palpitations. Gems include:


“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” ~ Mark Twain

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” ~ Saul Bellow (Why is this true??? My guess is that we’re not awake enough to second-guess our gut.)

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” ~ T.S. Eliot

“Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald (Yes.)

But the one that made me bounce in my seat, that made me say “yay yay yay yay yaaay”?

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” ~ Stephen King.

My favorite writer giving my favorite writing advice. My shit day has become beautiful.

What bit of writing advice did you learn once that you think of and follow regularly?


My favorite things

12 Jun

I’m linking up for this batch of My Favorite Things for the Yes Teacher Craft’s Tickle Me Tuesday, which features Jac & Elsie this week!!

I’m loving on this little leaf ring and how it stacks so brilliantly with Nested Yellow’s other pieces. (Click on any of the images to see more.)

Amen, sister.

I really like flat note cards, and this deal is beyond amazing. If the graphic designer beau wasn’t designing all our wedding papery goodies, I’d totally use these for our wedding thank-yous.

And because this is just an awesome way to dock an iSomething … and because I JUST GOT MY TICKETS TO SEE HIM LIVE IN DECEMBER …

And, if I might reiterate that … Stephen King … and me … in the same room. Tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. June 1, the day I was driving with friends to Nashville. I started to call at 9:59 a.m. I had planned to spend too much to get the right-up-close seats. Well, by the time I finally got through at 10:16 or so, all those close seats were sold out.

So come December, the beau and I will be traveling to Massachusetts to see The Man.

((takes a deep breath))


Quoted and noted: Reason No. 401 to love King

1 Nov

“And in my experience, town politicians know a little, the town cops know a lot, and the local newspaper editor knows everything.” ~ Col. James Cox, “Under the Dome,” Stephen King

So this week’s My Favorite Things are naturally inspired by two of my favorite things: King and newspaper editors.

Psst: Anyone who wants some insight into Jaclyn’s X-mas wishes can go ahead and snatch that “Stephen King rules” T-shirt pour moi. I dig the magnet, too, but that shirt rocks the casbah.

Quote and noted: Oh, God, no

9 Jun

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”  ~Oscar Wilde

Sooooo … based on the last King book I read … I’m going to be the vessel for an otherwordly demon to possess. Then I’m going to murder everything I see. Awesome.

Quoted & noted: King on faith

26 Apr

“This was something Reverend Martin had told him over and over again, drilling him with it like some important spelling rule, i before e except after c: sane men and women don’t believe in God. That was all, that was flat. You can’t say it from the pulpit, because the congregation’d run you out of town, but it’s the truth. God isn’t about reason; God is about faith and belief. God says, ‘Sure take away the safety net. And when that’s gone, take away the tightrope, too.’” ~Stephen King, “Desperation,” p. 242

This is a perfect example of why I love King so much. He takes a concept as gray (as in “versus black and white,” not as in “dull and boring”) and complex as faith and throws this superbly perfect metaphor at it. Makes me want to crawl in his prose and camp out under his stars.

Of course, with King, it’s Full Dark, No Stars, but I’d wait for the twinkle anyway.

Fill in the blank Friiiiiiiday

22 Apr

This week’s edition of Fill in the Blank Friday brought to you by rain, weekends and the little things we do.

Fridays are meant for nights in. I like a casual, easy breezy dinner followed by a rented flick.

Lots of things — like finishing an amazing book, starting a book, Donald Duck, phone calls from someone who loves me, travel and my family — make me amazingly happy.

Something that inspires me is art. Paintings, books (yes, I consider that an art form), music — they all make me want to create, if only to somehow feebly approximate the feeling those art works give me.

If I had the day off today, I would wake up whenever I felt like waking up, then roll over and grab “Desperation” or my most recent issue of “Rolling Stone” or “Marie Claire.” Then I’d pack my car and head off to Mom and Dad’s.

If I had to put a label on my home decor style, I would say my style is college-girl-tries-to-be-a-grown-up. It’s hard to be trendy when your apartment is overrun with jewelry stuff. Plus, the giant thrift-store stitched Donald Duck in my room doesn’t help matters.  (I’m lying — it’s very existence helps everything.)

This little guy would feel right at home in my apartment. (Please don't think you walk in and get attacked by Donalds. Believe it or not, it's much more subtle than that. I just like pretending he's everywhere.)

Concerning politics I would say I’m socially liberal and economically conservative. But I will never, ever, ever vote for someone who a) thinks I’m better than someone else because I like men or b) thinks I’m worse than someone else because I have lady parts.

I’d like to go to everywhere! The first place is Italy, of course, but eventually, I’d like to have a memory in all 50 states. And after Italy are Ireland and Greece. After that’s Egypt. After that, I’m game for anything.

Link up with the little things we do, or if you don’t want to answer all the questions, pick one and answer it in the comments here.

Happy Friday!

‘Heart-Shaped Box’: The comparisons can’t be helped

4 Apr

“Heart-Shaped Box,” by Joe Hill — READ IT.

This book has been on my radar for a few years, in part for the very reason Joe Hill likely uses a pseudonym — so he didn’t get compared to his dad. Sorry, Stephen King’s son. It’s true I picked up your book because of your dad. It’s also true that I loved your book and found it very un-Stephen-King-like. You’re a spectacular writer in your own merit. “Horns” is now on my list.

That being said … of COURSE I looked for bits of King in there. How could I not? I found them in some really interesting plot and word choices:

  • King likes to use lines like “They never saw each other again,” or “Craig had no way of knowing it would be the last time he spoke to Melinda.” In this description, it sounds cheesy. In action, however, the technique makes the reader freak out. I want to disbelieve the sentence. “Clearly, you’re fooling me!” It’s like a little bit of foreshadowing that can drive a reader nuts — in a wonderful way. Hill does this once, and it made me grin because of the King’ness of it. Then it made me say, “NO! You’re lying to me, right???”
  • This may be in my mind because I recently read “Bag of Bones.” But I feel the ending of “Heart-Shaped Box” was a little “YOU’RE WRONG” to King. (The rest of this bullet is a spoiler alert. If you want to read “Heart-Shaped Box,” skip to the next bullet). “Bag of Bones” ends with a little note where King essentially tells the reader, “Sorry I had to kill the girl. But the age difference between her and the protagonist was too creepy for me to allow the relationship to work out.” I saw the happily-ever-after resolution of Jude’s relationship with Marybeth to be a little “Heh, heh!” to his dad.
  • When there’s stabbing involved, King likes a particular stab wound: Across the face, at the corners of the mouth, creating an insanely creepy clown grin. Hill uses this.

And that’s it for the comparisons that Hill so wanted to avoid. His style reminded me much more of Michael Koryta’s “So Cold the River” than any particular King novel. That is to say, Hill writes briefly. The book is a quick read that absorbs you completely. It takes place over a relatively short span of time, given the length of the book (376 pages), and the story is absolutely riveting.

P.S. If I didn’t know Hill was King’s kid going in, I might have figured it out by the author’s picture. I mean, come on.