About Me

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Denver, Colorado, United States
I'm an old time roleplayer who became a soldier who became a veteran who became a developer who became a dba who became a manager who never gave up his dream of a better world. Even if I have to create it myself.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Awesome Tool: On Writing

Truth.
If you want to write anything, this book is a must-read.  It doesn't matter if you are writing blogs or emails or adventures or short stories or novels or even something lame like a novella or a blog comment.

You might not even like some of Stephen King's works.  I don't.  It doesn't matter.  He doesn't like some of it either and he talks about why in here.  His meanderings on life and death and on "telling the truth" give form and purpose to writing and teach about connecting with readers.

One of my favorite rules, which I hereby dub the King Rule (of Second Drafts), is the simple equation:

2nd Draft = 1st Draft - 20%

My view on this is that when we write something down (1st Draft), we are spewing directly from our consciousness - but our consciousness doesn't translate well to what people understand.  That's why we do 2nd Drafts.  This rule implies that a lot of what's in our heads is not very interesting or relevant, and getting rid of some of it is a bit like reducing a stock or sauce - it concentrates the flavor of what's left into something worth eating.

I use this rule all the time in business communications.  When I write any email of significance, I force myself to do a 2nd draft.  Eliminating 20% of the 1st draft has significantly increased my communications effectiveness - more people read the email, and more people understand it.

I daresay 20% of most published adventures could easily be eliminated without getting rid of anything meaningful.  Some adventures could probably lose 80% before they taste good.  Remember Rule 1 and get rid of the un-fun!

Try the King Rule out next time you feel the need to spew your consciousness, and let me know how it goes.

Also - clowns are freaky bitches.

6 comments:

  1. Are you telling me that The Dark Tower had 20% MORE text in the first draft?

    Crikey!


    Also, I used the opposite rule when writing essays in high school. I'd write down what I knew about the topic, find out it was less than the required word/page limit, and then pad it out with unnecessary adjectives.

    And yes, I still got As.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "The Dark Tower had 20% MORE text in the first draft?

      Crikey!

      I used the opposite rule when writing essays in school. I'd write what I knew about the topic, find out it was less than the required word/page limit, then pad it with unnecessary adjectives.

      I still got As."

      Fixed.

      I suspect Crikey is also an unnecessary adjective but I'll have to check my English to never-really-learned-English dictionary to be certain.

      Delete
    2. "Crikey is an unnecessary adjective but I'll check my English to never-really-learned-English dictionary."

      Delete
    3. I'd suggest that "Crikey" was used to good comic effect just then, but then I never learned english.

      Delete
  2. I agree this book is excellent but you are being too harsh on your own writing.

    Mr King says
    2nd Draft = 1st Draft - 10%

    Page 266 my copy in section 12 in the On Writing part.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure, make me go get my book off the shelf...

      Page 222 in mine - perhaps a different edition - but you're right. And all this time I've been cutting 20%.

      Maybe the more amateur a writer is, the bigger that fraction should be? :)

      Delete

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