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On Writing by Stephen King

On Writing (edition 2002)

by Stephen King

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11,558330233 (4.2)249
Title:On Writing
Authors:Stephen King
Info:Pocket Books (2002), Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library

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On Writing by Stephen King


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English (314)  French (4)  German (2)  Finnish (2)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (1)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (328)
Showing 1-5 of 314 (next | show all)
Man's a little self-absorbed. ( )
  thebookmagpie | Jan 30, 2016 |
Man's a little self-absorbed. ( )
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
Man's a little self-absorbed. ( )
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
It took me a long time to decide to buy this book, and even longer to start reading it. I am not remotely interested in horror or violence, and had never read anything by Stephen King. But finally I started it, lost interest after a few chapters of biography.. then started it again a few weeks ago, determined to finish.

The first section of the book is interesting enough as a biographical background, including one or two amusing (and terrifying!) incidents in King's childhood. Then there's an honest account of his early writing, some of which was dire - but under it all was a determination to keep writing, and to be published.

The second - and main - section is some general tips about writing. Not specifics - those, as King says, are covered in many other books - but his personal take on the importance of, for instance, reading extensively, writing with honesty, and eliminating adverbs. I didn't learn anything new but there were some useful reminders and I felt inspired by his enthusiasm and dedication to his craft.

The last part was about a traffic accident and its aftermath - interesting, in a biographical way, but not really relevant to the rest of the book, other than the way that he started writing again as soon as he could, despite extreme discomfort. Possibly the most useful part of the book was the first draft of one of his stories, followed by an edited second draft, with explanations of why he changed or cut certain sections. He follows the principle of the second draft being 10% shorter than the first one, and I could see that the second draft was more readable, tighter than the first.

It didn't inspire me to read any of his books, however; I was unimpressed with his insistence that it's important to use bad language because that's how people speak. This is not my experience, and while the odd word used in extreme circumstances in fiction may be 'honest', I didn't appreciate coarse language as part of the narrative, in random places.

Still, if you can stomach the bad language, and don't mind the biographical parts, it's worth a read for anyone eager to write. ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
This is the second time I have read this book, and I am sure I will do so again. The large amount of information on the mechanics of writing is worth review by writers as they fine tune their craft. King personalizes his progress and adventures in publishing world adventures to such an extent that a reader might think this is another fiction book. Therefore fun to read. He describes a lot of situations one might think to be personal tragedies, but then goes on to say "Stuff happens, and these are the positive take-aways." (paraphrase) King details his less than affluent childhood, which he contrasts with the positive input and advice of his hard working mother. He describes his financially hard scrabble early married life while narrating the joys of fatherhood and the pleasure he felt at the continuing support (and criticism) of his Ideal Reader, Tabitha. His struggle with alcohol and drugs recall the horror and terrors of some of his best selling fiction. A positive side here (there are several) is "By the way, did I mention that I wrote MISERY while being in sort of a fugue?" (paraphrase) Sounds better than drunk.

And then there was almost being killed while walking. (passive voice.... a King negative)

The only negative side to the book is that he almost makes the craft of writing look easy. A reader might leave with this false perception, and it would be the readers fault. King warns over and over about the requirement to be disciplined and honest in writing. Easy to say, hard to do.

And that is the only negative. Do not make Stephen King angry. He will come to you in your sleep.
( )
  ajarn7086 | Jan 23, 2016 |
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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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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)

» see all 7 descriptions

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