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On Writing by Stephen King

On Writing (edition 2002)

by Stephen King

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11,829342225 (4.2)267
Title:On Writing
Authors:Stephen King
Info:Pocket (2002), Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:non-fiction, digital

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On Writing by Stephen King


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Showing 1-5 of 326 (next | show all)
A very enjoyable memoir by Stephen King. In the book, the author tells us about his early childhood and his interest in writing as early as 8. He spends time talking about his path to where he is now as an author. Then a part of the book is also about how to be a writer. This was very enjoyable even though I have no desire to write, this book has a lot of good information that a person can use when reviewing books that they've read. The last part, the author tells us about his accident in 1999 when he was hit by a van while he was out for one of his walks and his recovery from a bunch of very serious injuries. I read this fast but I will be reading it again. Loved it. ( )
  Kristelh | Jul 2, 2016 |
Stephen King calls On Writing a memoir of the craft. I call it laugh-out-loud funny in places and as much on target for those who simply want to know more about what makes good writing good as for those who want to write … well … good. ( )
1 vote wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
Rating: 4

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. This book is way more memoir than writing advice, but that's what makes it so special. We get to see how Stephen King became Stephen King, and we get to do it easily thorough his memoirs. But the format also works. He stays chronological and the sections are super short, making this a relatively fast-paced read, though it's a far cry from a thriller. I learned so much about writing, publishing, and Stephen King in this book, and I feel that all the information was helpful. If you want an entertaining writer's guide, this is it. ( )
  ZetherBooks | Jun 15, 2016 |
For devotees of King, the first half of the book was a true treat, where the author takes time to tell us the highlights of his life that influenced him into the writer he became. Heartfelt memories of his mother, brother, wife, and children were a joy to read, with me growing teary-eyed on an occasion or two. I was delighted to see small things in his childhood that reminded me of things to come in later books (like IT.) His mothers support of him from the beginning was, I think, a crucial part of his development. One of the more emotional areas of the books, it's good to have someone fighting in your corner and keeping your hopes up. After his mother, there was his wife, all playing their big parts in who he became.

It's stimulating to see other authors (or anyones) love of books, comics, and old horror movies from their past.

He tells of his drug and alcohol addiction. I enjoyed his parting line on the section, stating (not word-for-word) that while creative types may be more inclined to be users, this isn't an excuse, it doesn't matter, as we "all look the same puking in the gutter."

The self-revelation he had that he was actually writing about himself in 'The Shining', and that Misery was about the coke and booze, was intriguing. It's clear King was a born writer, saying it's more work NOT to write on a daily basis, drawn to it where he kept trying and not giving up, even from the period of Junior High.

Once the memoir has passed, he delves into a variety of writing advice. No quick how-tos, exercises (okay, a small parting one...), but instead discusses his viewpoints on the craft of writing, showing high respect for 'The Elements of Style', warning against those pesky adverb overdoses, too much wording fluff (guilty!), and dialogue sins. I'd say his most repeated, emphasized advice is "read a lot, write a lot."

I found through this book that King doesn't outline, that he places characters into bizarre situations and writes to get them out of it, he doesn't rely as heavily on plot as some. He gives advice to new writers on literary agents, discusses the importances of re-writes and then gives an indepth-description of how he does his, including at the end of revised example in the second draft of "1408". Much love is given to his wife, Tabitha, listing her as his ideal reader. King discusses the importance of having a select few to give their ideas on your book before sending it off. He spends a chapter discussing so called creative writing courses and groups, not dismissing them outright but rich in his common sense as he honestly shares his viewpoint on how they may not help you grow.

If I have one complaint, it's that I'd love for the book to be longer, to hear more indepth details about certain older books. Since Carrie was his first published novel, he shared how the idea came, how Tabitha helped encourage him, how he found many of the facts, and how it grew from there. It was interesting how he said The Stand was his hardest to write, and that he almost gave up on it, and it took him the longest since he put it away in a drawer for a time. It's not so much interesting because of him and the book exactly, but because this is the sort of situation almost every writer will eventually run into.

Even if you're not a prospective writer, this is interesting stuff. It's not a guidebook or an instruction manual, it's just a writer's life being discussed. 'On Writing' is nowhere near a definite guideline, but King makes this clear up-front anyway. There really are no 'definite guidelines' in writing, you either write or you don't. If you're interested in King at all, the thoughts on writing perhaps show more about him and his life than anything else. ( )
  ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
King explains very clearly at the outset what this short book is about -- a mix of the early life of the writer, some key events and influences, including his relationship with alcohol and drugs, followed by advice for writers (the toolbox), and closing with the accident that almost took it all away. King has written before about his influences, so much of that aspect of this book will be familiar to fans. For would-be writers, King's toolbox includes the obvious (know your tools, get a good agent), but I think will help many understand the difference between plot and story. For King, plot is a machine for making things happen and something he clearly doesn't believe in. Story is what emerges as you uncover what happens when your characters meet some situation.

Recommended for fans of King, whether you want to be a writer or just want to understand one. ( )
  ChrisRiesbeck | Jun 11, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 326 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 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 writes about his life as a writer and how his ability to write saved him after a horrifying accident that almost took his life.

(summary from another edition)

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