Post: Stephen King offers first draft advice in a guest blog

Stephen King

Prolific, popular, talented and successful—such words are sufficient to describe the author mentioned in the title of this blog post. He has published more than 60 novels, which have sold more than 400 million copies. Stephen King also writes under the pen name, “Richard Bachman.” Some time ago, he shared a guest blog post online with helpful tips for writing a first draft. 

Do you have a routine or regimen that you follow when writing a first draft? Is it the easiest part of your writing journey or the most challenging? Every author must be true to his or her heart and must develop a style and system of writing that brings out his or her best work. However, it doesn’t hurt to listen to what the masters of fiction have to say and to give some of their ideas a try. As far as Sci-Fi thrillers go, Stephen King is about as masterful as you can get. 

Do not stop writing your first draft if you don’t know how to spell a word

Stephen King says that writers should never interrupt their creative flow when crafting a first draft. For example, many writers struggle when it comes to spelling words correctly. However, if you stop to look up every word you don’t know how to spell or start clicking on autocorrect, you are creating a distraction. King encourages writers to keep moving forward, perhaps, spelling a word phonetically for the time being, then using autocorrect or a dictionary during the first round of edits and revisions. 

Stephen King thinks you should throw your thesaurus away

Some authors, such as Charles Dickens, are known for their descriptive language. Others, like Stephen King, believe it’s best to use basic words that are familiar to most readers. You might think it’s helpful to keep a thesaurus on hand to discover synonyms for certain words. King says that during the first draft, you should be doing nothing but writing. He believes that any word you must search for is the wrong word for your story. In fact, King says, you should not use any reference books during execution of your first draft. 

What if you need to know the name of a place?

Such advice may seem confusing to some authors, such as those who write historical fiction, for instance. You can’t just go making up names of towns or cities if you want your novel to be historically accurate. Stephen King recommends inserting any old name for a location you don’t know, then editing it out later. Again, the point is to continue the flow of each writing session of your first draft without stopping. 

If you’ve set a goal of writing for an hour or until you meet a specific word count, stick to it without stopping. It’s better to leave a blank space than to pause and go searching for information. There’s time for revisions during the writing process. Let the first draft unfold as it may; that’s why it is called a “first” draft. Oh, and as for King writing under a pen name, many famous authors do the same. You can read more about that, here.