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On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen…

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (edition 2001)

by Stephen King

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Title:On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Authors:Stephen King
Info:New English Library (2001), Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library

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On Writing by Stephen King


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English (371)  German (4)  French (3)  Spanish (3)  Finnish (2)  Portuguese (1)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  Japanese (1)  All languages (388)
Showing 1-5 of 371 (next | show all)
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 |
I've had this book on my shelf for ages. I don't know why I didn't read it before now, but I'm glad to say, that for me, it lives up to the hype. There was more memoir in the book than I'd expected, but it all fits. It all shows his relationship with writing, its importance, its necessity in his life.
You certainly don't need to be a horror writer to find this book useful. The advice can apply to any writing, and there is plenty to identify with. ( )
  AngelaJMaher | Jun 22, 2018 |
I enjoyed this book, more than I thought I would. I'd recommend it to anyone who's looking for a book about writing. It's not gospel, but it offers a lot of quality information. I'm sure plenty of it feel repeated (active not passive voice, to be a writer you must read). Take from it what works for you.

It certainly contains a lot of autobiography along the way, the first section (C.V.) is entirely a memoir. But I liked that aspect, as someone who enjoys reading about other's stories. Even in the more writing oriented sections, there is still a trail of his memoir, but I think it stops it from feeling dry. If you want a straight writing guide, read 'The Elements of Style'.

It's broken into 4 main parts: C.V., Toolbox, On Writing, and On Living. This is followed by an example of editing a first draft, and some recommended reading from Stephen King. Overall, it's a pretty easy read and certainly provides some solid advice for the early (or hobby) writer. He explains everything he covers in plain English.

TL;DR: I learned from it and enjoyed it. ( )
  carmacreator | Jun 13, 2018 |
So far the best advice and most inspirational book on writing, and there are lots of them. Don't have to love his books to appreciate his love of writing. Worth reading more than once or as needed. ( )
  LJCain | May 15, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 371 (next | show all)
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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)

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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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