On Writing by Stephen King

On Writing by Stephen KingDo you want to be a writer?

I’m not asking “do you want to write?” It’s not the same question. Rather “do you want to be a writer?” If so, you could do worse than reading On Writing by Stephen King.

On Writing is part memoir that provides context for the evolution of an author (a highly successful one, at that). It is also part instructive guide on how to write well. This refreshing read forgoes the technical intricacies of stringing words together. Instead, it gives a much more practical overview of the mental approach necessary to write well; which means, of course, to write honestly.

It is easy to see why Stephen King is such a successful author. His easy style is a friendly read. Of course, being conversational means that “conversational” words are woven throughout. And Stephen King’s conversational vocabulary can be a bit… salty. Still, it’s honest and instructive.

One of my favorite parts include his toolbox analogy, where he relates the essential skills of writing to tools, with the most important and commonly used ones in the top drawer, easily accessible. He manages to touch on all of the critical parts of writing well, and places each one of them within reach of an aspiring author.

An attempt to summarize all of the finer points would not do the book justice. The fine points are just too numerous. I’ll just have to pass along my hearty recommendation that, if you want to be a writer, read this book. You’ll be glad you did.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher

William-Shakespeare-Star-WarsDost thou love Shakespeare? Are you Star Wars fan?

If you answered “yes,” once, then William Shakespeare’s Star Wars is recommended reading.
If you answered “yes” twice, this is a must read!

Ian Doescher masterfully retells Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope in iambic pentameter. However, this is far from being a simple script rewrite of one of the greatest space operas in the history of the galaxy. It also includes touching insights into the hearts and minds of the characters. I found myself going from amused, to entertained, to intrigued, to enchanted, to enthralled. Throughout the narrative, I pictured the grand spectacle playing out in the Globe Theatre, visualizing the players, the costumes, the sets.

My first realization that this was a deeper dive into George Lucas’s characters, Shakespeare style, was in Act I, Scene 2 (line 27, to be precise)…

Darth Vader has just extinguished the flame of stalwart Rebel Leader 1, whose final words were an insistence that his ship was on a “diplomatic mission.” Vader directs his stormtroopers to search the ship, and is left to his own thoughts:

And so another dies by my own hand,
This hand, which now encas’d in blackness is.
O that the fingers of this wretched hand
Had not the pain of suff’ring ever known.
But now my path is join’d unto the dark,
And wicked men — whose hands and fingers move
To crush their foes — are now my company.
So shall my fingers ever undertake
To do more evil, aye, and this — my hand —
Shall do the Emp’ror’s bidding evermore.
And thus we see how fingers presage death
And hands become the instruments of Fate.

We are soon introduced to the droid duo of C-3PO and R2-D2. 3PO prattles on (as he is wont to do), and R2 responds with his characteristic “Beep, meep, beep, squeak” etc. (still in iambic pentameter, of course!)

Then, not 20 lines after Vaders musings, R2 shares his inner monologue with the audience, shining a bright light on the wit and wisdom of this cunning astromech droid. His 13 lines of monologue hooked me and held me fast. I won’t spoil it for you. You’ll have to discover the rest for yourself.

From beginning to end, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars was a treat to read.

The Bard would be proud.