Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

HONESTY: The Best Policy?

Today’s re-blog explores the way readers confuse characters with their authors…

Lit World Interviews

Stephen King on Writing“As with all other aspects of fiction, the key to writing good dialogue is honesty. And if you are honest about the words coming out of your characters’ mouth, you’ll find that you’ve let yourself in for a fair amount of criticism.” Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft, Page 217

Stephen King’s book On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft is considered a must by many in the profession. The quote above continues on about how King receives mail at least once a week calling him all sorts of names because of what his characters say. A lot of people confuse what a character believes with what an author believes.

Believe me when I say, that if I have a character murder someone, I don’t believe in people murdering people. I want that on the record. Oddly, I imagine King has rarely been called a murderer.

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2 responses to “HONESTY: The Best Policy?

  1. juliecroundblog May 22, 2016 at 6:23 am

    When I wrote a character who had experienced much of the same problems as I had I found people who read the book asked “Is that you?” I laughed it off. Like most writers the characters I invent have aspects of people I have met, but none of them are a mirror image.
    As for honesty, I can make a vicious character swear but I’m afraid I don’t use language that I find offensive – if that is dishonest, too bad.
    I think we all try to write books that we would want to read and I just wish I could write like Stephen King!


    • Alexander M Zoltai May 22, 2016 at 10:05 am

      I do think, Julie, that the language of our characters would have an overall “qualification” of honesty, depending on the plot and the “world” of the book.

      A book in set modern day Chicago’s rougher neighborhoods would have honest dialogue that included every imaginable swear word and people talking about and truly believing that killing another human was right…

      Another time, another world, another flavor of reality would have a different overall “honesty”…


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