The 10% Rule – Or How Stephen King Made Me A Better Writer

This post by Erin Whalen originally appeared on her site on 8/25/15.

When I was a kid, I was a HUGE Stephen King fan.

I read The Shining in grade four. Carrie and Salem’s Lot and The Stand in grade five. Cujo in grade six. (Still can’t bear to think of the ending to that one.)  Different Seasons in grade seven. Christine in grade eight. And so on…

As I grew older and developed an appreciation for books that strove to do something more than scare the pants off people, I left Mr. King’s works behind. But I’ve always had great appreciation for his ability to create compelling characters and spin a yarn that could captivate and terrify me and leave me wanting more.

So when a friend recommended his book On Writing, I decided to check it out.

Turns out Mr. King’s book on the writing process is just as captivating as his novels. He offers fabulous advice and a compelling account of his own experience of becoming a writer and honing his art.

One of the best takeaways I got from his book was “the 10 percent rule.”

It goes like this:

Whenever you finish a piece of writing, check its word count then go back through it and ruthlessly remove at least 10% of the words.

So if it’s a 750-word article, delete 75 words. If it’s a 500-word article, take out 50 words, etc.


3 Tips on How to Shrink Your Word Count

As you implement the 10% rule, you’ll become aware of words in your writing that don’t add essential meaning to what you’re trying to say.

Here are 3 specific examples to look for:


Read the full post on Erin Whalen’s site.