What we're about

This class is for fiction writers interested in getting their work published, and is based on Stephen’s King’s book, On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft.

To participate in the class, you MUST sign up for Class #1 each session. Just being a member of this group doesn't get you into the actual Meetups. The Meetups are limited in size, and there is a fee.

In his book, King gives valuable insights into how to be a better writer. King believes there are lots of bad writers (he says so in the book). We’ll use his advice to avoid becoming one of them, review published fiction that exemplifies King’s advice, and workshop our own fiction pieces within the group, using King’s insight as our model for critiques and suggestions for improvement. Some of that insight includes:

· "You don't always have to take the editor's advice. Sometimes the way you see it is the way it should be.”

· "The novel is a quagmire that a lot of new writers stumble into before they’re ready to go there.”

· "When I started Salem’s Lot I thought to myself, 'Well, this will be the opposite of Dracula where the good guys win and in this book the good guys are gonna lose and everybody’s gonna become a vampire at the end of the book.' And that didn’t happen. Because you go where the book leads you."

· "I think the best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event, which is to say character-driven."

· "Interpret write what you know as broadly as possible"

· "You might also notice how much simpler a thought is to understand when it's broken up into two thoughts. This makes matter easier for the reader, and the reader must always be your main concern."

· "Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings."

· "The most important things to remember about backstory are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting."

· "Symbolism exists to adorn and enrich, not to create an artificial sense of profundity."

· "The object of fiction isn't grammatical correctness, but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story."

· "Must you write complete sentences each time, every time? Perish the thought. If your work consists only of fragments and floating clauses, the Grammar Police aren’t going to come and take you away."

· "The adverb is not your friend. Adverbs, like the passive voice, seem to have been created with the timid writer in mind. With the passive voice, the writer usually expresses fear of not being taken seriously; it is the voice of little boys wearing shoe polish mustaches and little girls clumping around in Mommy’s high heels. With adverbs, the writer usually tells us he or she is afraid he/she isn’t expressing himself/herself clearly, that he or she is not getting the point or the picture across."

· "One who grasps the rudiments of grammar finds a comforting simplicity at its heart, where there need only be nouns (the words that name), and verbs (the words that act)."

· "Verbs come in two types, active and passive. With an active verb, the subject of the sentence is doing something. With a passive verb, something is being done to the subject of the sentence. The subject is just letting it happen. You should avoid the passive voice."

· "In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it 'got boring,' the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep the ball rolling."

· "One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you're maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones."

· "Good description is a learned skill, one of the prime reasons why you cannot succeed unless you read a lot and write a lot.”

· "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut."

· "Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work."

· "Particularly in the Horror genre there are only three or four good ideas and we’ve all done them before. And it’s really – okay, I mean like, how many times in your life have you eaten eggs? But there’s always a new way to fix eggs and, you know, I look at it that way. You can always find a new way to do it. I think there are as many ideas as there are probing talented minds to explore those ideas."

· "Let's get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn't to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up."

· "Don't wait for the muse. This isn't a Ouija board or the spirit-world we're talking about here, but just another job like laying pipe or driving long-haul trucks."

· "I cannot emphasize the importance of rewriting."

· "In terms of work, once I sit down to write and I’m in the story, all that falls away. I’m not thinking about cultural implications, I’m not thinking about genre, I’m not thinking about any of those things that have to do with what critics would talk about when they analyze fiction — all those things go away. But they only go away in the first draft. And then you put stuff away. When you come back to it, you read it and you say, these are the important things, this is where lightning struck for me. Those are almost always things that are cultural and thematic, and I just try and highlight those when I revise."

· "Bad writing is more than a matter of shit syntax and faulty observation; bad writing usually arises from a stubborn refusal to tell stories about what people actually do―to face the fact, let us say—that murderers sometimes help old ladies cross the street."

Instructor's Bio: Mark Lee Webb received his MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. He has published two chapbooks: WHATEVERITS (Finishing Line Press, 2014) and The Weight of Paper (ELJ Publications, 2014). His work has received two Pushcart Prize nominations, and has appeared in many literary journals, including Ninth Letter, Rattle, Reed, Columbia Journal, The Louisville Review, Aeolian Harp, Soundings Review, Glassworks, Chiron Review, The Baltimore Review, RipRap, and Star 82 Review.

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