I call it this because King must be doing something right to sell so many novels so often.  After King released his excellent nonfiction work, On Writing, I have modified this list based upon his direct advice about what makes writing work.

Physicalize the Abstract.

The hardest part of talking about concepts and ideas is that the words feel empty and over-used.  King’s style tries this:


Turn concepts and generalizations into metaphors.  Make democracy a dog, remorse a haze, or happiness an injection of morphine. Now play.

Move from General to Specific.

Replace the general physical terms with very clear specific nouns that represent the general.  Replace “society” with “grocery clerks” or “Principal Thompsons.” Remove “food” and use “wheat toast and Nutella spreads.” Replace “events” with a specific image from a novel or poem, like “sea bottom scuttling” or “palm tree embraces.”

Sensory Language Unexpectedly.

We all know we should use the senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell (and perhaps gastronomics), but try using them in ways that shift the senses: “cacophonies of color” or “her skin looked salty, bitter.”

Potent Verbs.

To accompany the Bonsai approach, avoid “to be” and experiment with unusual verbs.  Never again will bird fly or sing or soar.  Now birds till the air with their beaks or cry through the holes of the leaves or paste themselves on blueness.


Now do to nouns and adjectives what you did with verbs.  Choose more revealing words over common ones.  This does not mean using a thesaurus but using the words you know in more creative and unexpected ways.  “People eat” might become “homeless gum” or “toddlers cram.”