Pick one word, off the top of your head and think about its composition. How many letters does it have? What does it sound like? How is it written? What does it mean? How do you feel about it? That was 5 basic questions about one word that could be answered on the spot. Imagine how the word that you picked could change the entire meaning of the story. The author that asserts his respect for the English word is Stephen King. In On Writing on pages 129 through 131, King shares the approach that every new writer should acquire in order to create magic.
King’s diction, figurative language, and detail portray his appreciation and diligence to the art of writing, which he emphasizes by revealing basic strategies every writer should acquire. The diction King includes emphasizes the amount of dedication every writer should put into writing in order for it to be successful. King asks the reader to pick up a book off a shelf and analyze the weight it has: “the commitment the writer shouldered in order to create the work, the commitment Constant Reader must make to digest it” (129).
The word “commitment” is used repetitively by King to emphasize the regard he holds to the important relationship that should occur between an author and the reader. He suggests there should be a devotion from the reader towards the author because of the work the author has created. Later on he writes, “But there is that matter of commitment, whether a book is good or bad, a failure or a success” (129). “Commitment” is now used by providing the affect that it makes.
King recognizes this concept to emphasize the appreciation that needs to occur from the reader in order to determine whether “the book is good or bad, a failure or a success”. King goes on to reference the idea of hard work in carpentry and the affect it has on writing: “Carpenters don’t build monsters, after all; they build houses, stores and, banks. They build some of wood a plank at a time and some of brick a brick at a time. You will build a paragraph at a time, constructing these of your vocabulary” (130).
The phrase “they build houses…you will build a paragraph” is indicating a metaphor that is used to clarify the hard work needed to be given towards a paragraph, reiterating King’s concept of the dedication needed for the work. “Some of plank at a time, some of brick at a time” he writes this to clarify how slow the process should take, there’s no need to rush if the writer wants a stable foundation, this could be seen as one of King’s techniques to help writers devote themselves to not only the art, but also the process of etting there.
Another example is, “Words create sentences; sentences create paragraphs; sometimes paragraphs quicken and begin to breathe” (130). The repetition of the word “create” reiterates the metaphor of building the house. King uses the repetition of the word “create” to clarify that the actions of “building the house” and “creating the paragraph” are synonymous to him, another basic strategy that King uses in order to educate new writers. The word “breathe” is written by King as he is describing how paragraphs are put together.
The personification of this word is chosen by King to add emotion to the idea that paragraphs and its’ words are living. This notion can be used to state that the respectful and beautiful way humans are capable of being treated, should be the way words are being treated as well. This is the deference King gives to the power of words, and the process to put them together to make magic. Through King’s detail, he clarifies the emotion needed from the author to keep their readers interested, another technique King suggests to employ when writing.
King begins with listing a series of novels that have made an impact on him, and the impact they should make on readers. “Even after a thousand pages we don’t want to leave the world the writer has made for us, or the make-believe people who live there” (131). The phrase “we don’t want to leave the world the writer has made for us” is used to emphasize King’s perspective that in order for obtaining full investment from the reader, there needs to be an element of escaping reality; living in a different world. Through this insightful thought, he is providing details necessary for writers to apply this to themselves and onto their work.
King also mentions the simplicity that needs to occur in order for these skills to work: “at its most basic we are only discussing a learned skill but do we not agree that sometimes our most basic skills can create things far beyond our expectations? ” (131). Through the phrase “do we not agree basic skills can create things far beyond our expectations? ” The dialogue King uses to talk to the readers adds emotion to his tone towards the idea of writing. He writes this phrase to emphasize that writers may have the skills needed to be successful, but it is the way they use those skills that sets them apart.
Being raw and honest even through simplest words, is the very reason King shows such a deep deference towards the art of writing. His diction, figurative language, and detail provide his readers with ideas that could benefit them through their writing. These main themes are prevalent throughout this passage, and the novel: the power of one word is enough to build novels, change the emotion of the reader, and give the ability to escape from one complicated world to another. The education he gives throughout his novel inspires many to look beyond the work, and find the beauty that words can create.