The Ideal Reader In Stephen King's On Writing

Topics: Writing, Creative writing, Writer, Essay, Thought, The Reader / Pages: 2 (410 words) / Published: Nov 16th, 2016
One of Stephen King’s strongest beliefs in On Writing was that the best way to write was to follow the method of writing with the door closed. King did not mean that quite literally—writing with a closed door is not a sure-fire way to write the country’s next bestseller—but rather that the best way to write is to do so without seeking out reader response while still drafting. In the words of his mentor, “when you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story” (King 57). How is someone supposed to tell themselves their story when, by sharing and critiquing, the readers are constantly influencing it?

Most writers aren’t looking to indirectly sabotage their motivation though, when they show others their work. Likely it’s shown for one of three reasons: a forced showing, due to some class or workshop; a desire for premature editing, harmful when the draft is not yet finished; or, frankly, fishing for approval. Just as an unfinished painting cannot be judged, an unfinished piece of writing is not yet up for criticism by anyone aside from its creator. In
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King believes in the concept of one, first mentioning it in On Writing when the subjects of pacing and backstory sprung up, by equating the Ideal Reader to be the judge of what is and isn’t too boring. “You also need to pay close attention to [what parts of] the backstory that bored your Ideal Reader.” If an Ideal Reader is bored by a certain section of the text pertaining to what classes a character took in high school, chances are, the audience as a whole will not be enamored by the writer’s detail, but would rather put the book down out of sheer disinterest. It’s best to think of writing as something else, like cooking—for example, tasting an uncooked dish won’t just leave a sour taste in the mouth, but might even cause poisoning, just as how worrying over the quality of unfinished work can steer a writer away from ever

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