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On Writing by Stephen King

On Writing

by Stephen King

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Showing 1-5 of 373 (next | show all)
So Stephen King was my first writer; at 10 years old my mother wouldn't let me watch MTV but she certainly didn't care if I read "It" (although she did draw the line at "Gerald's Game"). King's books were the first I read with the slow movement up the consciousness-ladder that "holy shit I fucking love this." So King holds a special place for me. I don't like everything he's done but even the books I hate I still care about because when I was an awkward and ugly preteen girl Stephen King said through his words "hey there's worlds and worlds you can love and it'll be no one's business but yours and mine, friend."

Which is why I'm mad it took me so long to read this book.

I wrote before I knew what it meant. I wrote stories about lost dogs finding their way home, about cardboard-characterized children surviving hurricanes and earthquakes and volcanoes (I had a disaster-kink as a middle school-er); I wrote for the worlds I didn't have, the worlds I desperately needed. And King was always there beside me, not only a friend but a cheerleader "Hey look what you can do!" And though I'm nowhere near there yet, I'm on my way. And having finally sat down and read this book, I'm so happy, so very happy that King was my first writer, my first friend. What he says here is immensely useful and never condescending. It's not mystical and it's not business-like, it just is because for King--writing just is. And I'm so glad he shared this with us. He didn't have to but he did and I'm grateful. What a great way to start off the new year. ( )
  ElleGato | Sep 24, 2018 |
On Writing is half a tutorial on how to be a successful writer and half auto-biography of Mr Kings life.

The Bad Stuff: For me, this book was so highly recommended, that my expectations were huge and I ended up being a little disappointed. I did not agree with all of Mr King's opinions and I sometimes struggle with his writing style, though evidently he is a great author and has a lot to teach.

The Good Stuff: There are some nuggets of information in this book that will help any author. Mr King shares his knowledge of successful techniques with us, as well as his personal experiences both in writing and his private life.

I enjoyed the auto-biography part of this book more than anything else, it was very interesting. I was expecting more from the 'writer's guide' section of the book though. Don't get me wrong, there is some very good info in this book, but I had heard a lot about it and I guess it's kind of like when you are told how great a movie is and you go in with really high expectations, then you feel a little let down. I think I would have appreciated it a whole lot more if I had no expectations of what I would find between the pages. I'm giving it 3 out of 5 golden bookmarks. ( )
  AWA1 | Sep 24, 2018 |
Great! Halfway through, I shut down the world and marathon'd. ( )
  morbusiff | Sep 20, 2018 |
On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft, Stephen King, 2000. I find it worth noting that Philip K. Dick’s Exegesis is huge, while his stories are compact. Stephen King’s work is the opposite; his novels are huge, while this book on his life as a writer is short. Both are inspiring. King covers all the obvious details of the mechanics, but does so with images that will not fade away like old school lessons. I am working on my ‘toolbox’ every day, trying to avoid ‘Zen similes’ and passive voice. Replacing adverbs with stronger verbs. The book I am working on, the story I have found like a fossil in the ground, as King describes his inspirations, includes a telepathic border collie. Very fitting I think, since King describes writing as telepathy. ( )
  drardavis | Sep 17, 2018 |
I disapprove of people who look down their noses at the writers of bestsellers. I have never read anything by Danielle Steele, Robert Ludlum, or others in that bag and never will—but I don’t begrudge them a dime or a moment of their fame, which they earned. I offer this preamble as a way to establish my bona fides as a Friend, if not always a reader, of Popular Authors. Like many other people my age (47), I was introduced to Stephen King as a kid, when I read The Shining with a flashlight in bed. I still remember the day in 1983 when my friend Bill walked by my math class and held up a copy of Christine as a way to boast I’ve got the new one. And while my tastes changed when I became an English major, and I hadn’t read him in a long time, I always had a soft spot for him. I tried some recent ones, but found them to be pretty thin soup.

The first problem with On Writing is its pretentious subtitle, which I imagine pronounced by a man looking like Colonel Mustard, holding a brandy snifter and sitting in a leather armchair as he says, “Ah yes—a mem-wah of the crawft, what?” And while King tries to remain unpretentious and down-to-earth, I found the whole experience of the book to have the opposite effect, as if he were trying too hard to be “just folks.”

The biggest problem isn’t the advice, but the delivery. King constantly, constantly tries to ingratiate himself to the reader through slang and a strange, forced habit of swearing, as if to suggest We’re just two pals here, cussin’ and talking. It’s odd and off-putting, like that first time you heard a teacher or maiden aunt say a bad word. I’m no Puritan and think every swear in Goodfellas or The Friends of Eddie Coyle is pitch-perfect; the problem here is that they create a phony voice. By the end of the book, I was begging him to stop talking.
More than once, I wish King had followed the advice of Strunk and White, whom he praises at the beginning of the book. One of their rules—“Do not affect a breezy manner”—should have been followed.

In recent years, King has become a kind of critics’ darling, as if the literati had decided to find out what happens in bowling alleys or at pro wrestling matches. Their sincerity strikes me as real as Mr. Burns’s for Johnny Punchclock. I liked him better when my teachers told me his books were trash and when my mother wondered why I wanted to stay inside on a sunny day to read The Stand. Those days taught me more about writing than this monologue.
( )
  Stubb | Aug 28, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
King, Stephenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Juti, RikuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Knudsen, BertilTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kuipers, HugoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rekiaro, IlkkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Honesty's the best policy. -- Miguel de Cervantes
Liars prosper. -- Anonymous
This book is dedicated to Amy Tan, who told me in a very simple and direct way that it was okay to write it.
First words
I was stunned by Mary Karr's memoir, The Liar's Club.
"I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs and I will shout it from the rooftops."
"... there is a huge difference between story and plot. Story is honorable and trustworthy; plot is shifty and best kept under house arrest." (page 170)
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On Writing tells of

writer's background more than rules

aspirants should learn.


Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743455967, Mass Market Paperback)

Short and snappy as it is, Stephen King's On Writing really contains two books: a fondly sardonic autobiography and a tough-love lesson for aspiring novelists. The memoir is terrific stuff, a vivid description of how a writer grew out of a misbehaving kid. You're right there with the young author as he's tormented by poison ivy, gas-passing babysitters, uptight schoolmarms, and a laundry job nastier than Jack London's. It's a ripping yarn that casts a sharp light on his fiction. This was a child who dug Yvette Vickers from Attack of the Giant Leeches, not Sandra Dee. "I wanted monsters that ate whole cities, radioactive corpses that came out of the ocean and ate surfers, and girls in black bras who looked like trailer trash." But massive reading on all literary levels was a craving just as crucial, and soon King was the published author of "I Was a Teen-Age Graverobber." As a young adult raising a family in a trailer, King started a story inspired by his stint as a janitor cleaning a high-school girls locker room. He crumpled it up, but his writer wife retrieved it from the trash, and using her advice about the girl milieu and his own memories of two reviled teenage classmates who died young, he came up with Carrie. King gives us lots of revelations about his life and work. The kidnapper character in Misery, the mind-possessing monsters in The Tommyknockers, and the haunting of the blocked writer in The Shining symbolized his cocaine and booze addiction (overcome thanks to his wife's intervention, which he describes). "There's one novel, Cujo, that I barely remember writing."

King also evokes his college days and his recovery from the van crash that nearly killed him, but the focus is always on what it all means to the craft. He gives you a whole writer's "tool kit": a reading list, writing assignments, a corrected story, and nuts-and-bolts advice on dollars and cents, plot and character, the basic building block of the paragraph, and literary models. He shows what you can learn from H.P. Lovecraft's arcane vocabulary, Hemingway's leanness, Grisham's authenticity, Richard Dooling's artful obscenity, Jonathan Kellerman's sentence fragments. He explains why Hart's War is a great story marred by a tin ear for dialogue, and how Elmore Leonard's Be Cool could be the antidote.

King isn't just a writer, he's a true teacher. --Tim Appelo

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:46 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Stephen King reflects on how his writing has helped him through difficult times and describes various aspects of the art of writing.

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