King says he is approaching the heart of the book with two theses. What are those theses? Do you agree or disagree with these theses? I would like for you to make particular reference to the second...

King says he is approaching the heart of the book with two theses. What are those theses? Do you agree or disagree with these theses? I would like for you to make particular reference to the second thesis.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The two theses that Stephen King proposes are as follows:

  1. "Good writing consists of mastering the fundamentals (vocabulary, grammar, the elements of style) and then filling the third level of your toolbox with the right instruments."
  2. "While it is impossible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer, and while it is equally impossible to make a great writer out of a good one, it is possible, with lots of hard work, dedication, and timely help to make a good writer out of a merely competent one."

Writing is a skill, and a good writer has this skill while the bad writer does not possess such a skill and is unable to attain it; the great writer has a certain talent, a God-given ability, that cannot be developed. Only skill can be developed, so the competent writer, who has a certain level of skill already, can become a good writer since practice with writing will help him attain this higher level of skill. The competent writer can become good by attaining what King calls "the tools" of a adequate vocabulary, and by learning the skills of breaking thoughts into smaller ideas of two or more, writing paragraphs that are "utilitarian"(--containing the topic sentence followed by supporting details and description), and learning how to use fragments that can generate images and create a certain tension. Going from competency to good entails hard work. Then, King suggests, if a writer works hard, the "Muse" will one day come to that writer. This work involves reading copiously, and writing copiously. Reading good writing provides writers with exemplary material; for, it teaches the writer about good characters, style, narration, development of plot, and "truth-telling." King insists that writers must read great books and "be swept away" by the narration: "You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you."

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