I Dream of Being Stephen King

In Spirit Lights the Way, a blog I follow, I read a post about a writing prompt for a short story to be written by two writers together:

Charts and optimal dates and preferential temperatures. One line or two. As if she could summon whatever it is that makes up the human soul as easily as she could a cab on a busy New York avenue.

And this is what Spirit Lights the Way wrote:

Deirdre stared at the steady stream of urine, hands shaking as she readied to take the plunge.


The cascading stream divided, water parting to flow with seamless effort  around the intruding stick.  If only life flowed around all obstacles with such ease.


Deirdre withdrew the saturated stick, her fate held in trembling hands.

One line or two.  One line or two.  C’mon.  C’mon.  C’mon.

One line or . . .    

Cal slammed into the bathroom.   Deirdre flinched and dropped the stick.

She watched it tumble away.

“Well . . . are you pregnant or not?”

To be continued . . . by JannaTWrites.

Of course! I was thinking maps, sailing and getting absolutely nowhere. One line or two. Optimal dates. Of course it’s about pregnancy! It’s as clear as day.  Why didn’t I think of that?

The thing is: I always ask myself that. And I never do think of it.

I have wanted to write a book since I was about seven. I started plenty of them, between the ages of seven and twelve. All of them started off with a girl running away from home, and they were filled with details about what she takes with her and how she sneaks off in the dead of night, and then nothing.

It’s pathetic. I read books by Stephen King and I see how he gets his ideas. It’s obvious. All you have to do is think, “What if . . . ” What if an invisible dome appears over a town from one second to the next and one of the councilmen is a power-hungry psychopath? From then on the story writes itself.

It seems so simple. If your mind thinks in terms of invisible domes, of course. God, I wish I were Stephen King–I really do. Or JannaTWrites.

My imagination is limited to seeing everything that could go wrong when my young children played on playscapes. Where’s the story in that? “What if . . . ” What if my son slid off that giant tube backwards? He’d break his neck. What if my daughter’s hands slipped when the swing is at it’s highest point? She’d fall and break her neck.

Anyone who can write a killer novel based on that premise has my blessing. I’ll just read it and be jealous.

8 responses to “I Dream of Being Stephen King

  1. Writing is tough – no two ways around it. You wrote of running away and such when you were young because . . . well, you can get there from here. Childhood angst and all that. 🙂

    Maybe the book you have inside you is a YA book about a little girl planning to run away and never quite making it. Start small and work upwards. (the nice thing about YA genre is it is shorter – quicker to the point.)

    btw I read once that someone asked SK how he could come up with his story lines. He said something like “what makes you think I have a choice?”

    we all have demons, I guess, and writing is a way to loose them and set them free so we can lose them. 🙂


  2. You could make it up to be a time paradox story, as in she packs her things and it always ends with her not going, but every time different things happen. Maybe she can change little things she wanted to change or maybe things get worse every time because of what she changed the lapse before …


  3. Thanks for sharing, Barbara. One clarifcation, today’s excerpt is mine . . . Janna will write and post the conclusion on Wednesday.

    You never know how far your imagination will go until you try to extend its reach. Give Stephen King a run for the money. 😀


  4. I never think of it either. I can write great dialogue, create characters and set the tone, describe the setting in eloquent, economical language – but I can’t do plot. I never know what could, should or might happen. Then last year, I participated in Nanowrimo and managed 20,000 words of a novel. I had a place and some characters and a daily word count quota. Every minute I wasn’t writing, I was thinking about my imaginary friends and who they were and where they lived and what they were to each other, and eventually what came next just kind of spilled out on the page and very often it wasn’t what I thought was going to happen next. Maybe you should do that with your running away story. Maybe you’ll find out what happens next when you write right up to it and then keep writing. Write like you don’t have a choice.


    • I started NaNoWriMo two years ago for the same reason: to be forced into a plot, but it didn’t work. I had this woman who was running away from her abusive husband (NOT autobiographical) and hiding in the hills, and after fifty pages (single-spaced) she was still gathering supplies and dragging them to this perfect cave (which really exists near Durango, Colorado). I could have done that for another 1000 pages.


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