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I live on the ocean, write women's fiction, love to read so much that it's an addiction rather than a hobby (I read an average of a book a day). I live on the wet west coast so it's a good thing that I like to walk in the rain.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Pulling Punches

I've just recently - after abstaining for many years - bought a Kindle. I bought it for three reasons, though the third wasn't really a reason, just another excuse for why I changed my mind.

One. Many of my writing friends are only published in e-form, which means the one place I know I get them is Amazon. This is really what sold me on it.

Two. There are books that I know right from the start I'm never going to read again so I don't need them on my shelves. Much easier to press the delete button on my Kindle than to put it in my giveaway pile and then get it to the Salvation Army.

Three. Travel. Instead of carrying five books with me and probably buying two or three more, I can carry one small Kindle.

But, in the end, it's something I didn't know that would make me replace it and which makes me love it.


I'm a huge fan of short fiction - short shorts, short stories, novellas - and there are so many good ones but they're not all easily accessible as there hasn't been that many outlets for short fiction, especially singles. Before Kindle Singles, many of them weren't even published.  I am sold on them and have bought - and read - many of them, both fiction and non-fiction. It's a terrific addition to my reading addiction.

Which leads me to the title of this blog.

One of the things I love about Stephen King is that he NEVER pulls any punches. His punches are always knockouts. I'm a huge fan of his writing book - On Writing - and in there (though I may not have this exactly right) he says that you have to kill your babies.

I take this to mean two things - the writerly thing is that we often put a paragraph or a sentence in a book that's so beautiful we can't get rid of it even when it doesn't belong there. I can't tell you if this is a skill of Stephen King's - if it is, those beautiful, perfect, do not belong sentences aren't in the books for me to see.

The other is where Stephen King excels, where I try to emulate him. Readers (and I include myself here) have to be invested in characters before they are damaged. We have to hurt for them, with them. We have to CARE about their fate. And he does this in every book I've ever read. This short - Mile 81 - isn't very long, but you care about every single character. He may take only a few sentences to get us to care, but we do. And we're sad when something bad happens to them. That's skill. That's great writing.

Pulling punches? That's for sissies.


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