Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What I Learned about Writing from Reading Mr Mercedes



The last Stephen King book I read took me forever. Not only was it long but it was one of his weirder ones.

I grabbed this book from our community library, determined to get in some reading between writing my books. Two nights ago, I stayed up much too late to finish it. I can't remember the last time a book made me give up my pillow.

Best of all, I learned valuable writing points that I hope to employ in my own writing,


  1. Create memorable characters. Not characters who are handsome or beautiful or have no defects or the perfect life. Backstory matters if done correctly. King's protagonist and antagonist were not your typical good guy/ bad guy. It really made me take a look at the character traits of my current WIP. How unique are they?
  2. Amp the Pacing. Not once did I find my eyes wandering from the page to wonder what I'd make for dinner, Instead, I wished my husband would cook while I read. And then when the final chapters bumped up the speed---yes--the right amount of pacing makes the reader keep reading. I was out of breathe in that last chapter but totally invested.
  3. Choose words that Count. King used words that created a sense of urgency as the plot evolved. He shortened his sentences and chose verbs that heightened my fear and intensified my anxiety as I read making me want to know the ending.
  4. Endings that Work. I spent days reading this book. If King had left me hanging or given me a less than satisfying ending, I may never have read another of his books again. I was that invested in the story line and characters. But he delivered. So should I and maybe I will gain another reader. 

You might not be a fan of King's writing. You might be a fan of another popular writer. Read their work. Study why you love or don't love a book. Then apply that learning to your own work. Stretch your writing muscles. 

Deliver.


9 comments:

Saumya said...

I love learning from talented writers and this was a great list. Thanks for sharing!

Lily Robinson said...

Good stuff. When I love someone's writing style, I do think about those things, but making an actual list is an awesome idea.

Lin Floyd said...

good advice even though I don't read King's books...

Saleslady371 said...

I never read his books but I know he has a home not too far from us here in Dodge. I always knew it was the perfect place for writers!

Keen observations on your part.

One thing that King has said that stayed with me is "write your story. Then cut it by half (or was it 2/3?) It will feel like your slicing up your baby, I know."

deeps said...

thanks for sharing this.. i m yet to read one by this author

Lynn said...

Stephen King's book On Writing, is one of my favourite writing books. After years of not reading Stephen King, I read Joyland last summer and really liked it for the same reasons you mention. I might have to look at him again for a summer read!

Kenda Turner said...

Based on this, I might try Stephen King again. I've read one of his books. In that one the ending didn't make me want to read another :-) But I appreciate the great writing insights you gained from his work. Thanks for some great advice.

Karen Lange said...

These are great points, Terri. I think they can apply in some ways to non fiction writing as well. Working on stretching my writing muscles this week! :)

Heckety said...

funny I've just seen this post because I have kust picked up a Stephen King novel, haven't read him in about ten or so years! Interesting points you make though, thank you!