On Writing by Stephen King

Stephen King

On Writing: A Memoir of the CraftOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My husband and I were out to dinner one night and at the next table was a girl about 12 years old, sitting with her family. What caught my attention was that her nose was buried in a young adult book. She was ignoring her entire family, her plate of food, the (amazing) bread basket and her glass of Coke. She was completely and utterly absorbed. After a while, her mom forced her to put the book down and eat. Her grandpa asked her what the book was about and I listened as she described (from her 12 year old point of view) the plot and why she hated putting it down, though she’d read it several times already.

In his book, On Writing, Stephen King describes someone called the Ideal Reader (or IR) that every writer should have. The Ideal Reader is the person the writer writes FOR. The person they’re trying to make laugh, cry or impress. For him, it’s his wife, Tabitha. At first, I assumed my IR was my writing partner, Dana, or my husband, Brian, or quite possibly my older sister, Jen. But I realized that I was wrong. While I do write for Dana, Brian and Jen, they’re not my IR.

After that dinner a year or two ago, the image of that little girl carefully turning the pages of her favorite book is ingrained in my memory. She’s the one I want to impress. She’s the one I want to enchant with stories so engaging that she can’t put the book down while out to dinner with her family. I have no idea who she is, what her name is and I could pass her on the street and I wouldn’t know it. She’s my Ideal Reader. She’s the one I’m writing for.

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2 Comments

  1. Kristin says:

    Aww, I love this! I was SO that 12-year-old girl once – it drove everyone in my family crazy how they had to say my name five times to snap me out of my book-trance. Okay, actually, I STILL get like that when I’m engrossed in a really good book, just don’t have as much time/luxury to do it anymore.

    Anyway, I need to think about who my IR is now, or I might just steal yours!

  2. Connie says:

    Great post!! I’m glad to hear hat I am still that 12 year old girl at heart :)

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