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On Writing

by Stephen King

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15,786464258 (4.21)334
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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Showing 1-5 of 446 (next | show all)
The life story of Stephen King, done and dusted.

And boy, I love this guy. He seems like my sibling, elder and experienced.

Loved his writing style, like the book and leaving with some lessons... One of them being "Kill the darlings". ( )
  abhijeetkumar | Aug 22, 2021 |
I didn't find the writing instruction particularly helpful or surprising. Most of his process and advice is common sense. That said, it is interesting to hear how such a prolific and popular writer works. The biggest take away from this book is how genuine and likeable the author turns out to be. It's nice to know that a good guy has achieved so much success with his work. ( )
  ProfH | Aug 8, 2021 |
Before I bought this I read many glowing reviews, so my expectations were high. As an aspiring writer, these books are important to me and this one in particular was extraordinary. I did not know that my particular pet peeves about writing and language and habits existed anywhere else. Validation is great. Thanks, Mr Stephen King, for seeing this particular project of yours through to the end ( )
  Cantsaywhy | Jul 28, 2021 |
I'd forgotten how *readable* Stephen King can be. Even when he's just chattering on, no plot or character or anything, his words are still compelling. I may well pick this up one day, just to have it on the shelf as a reminder of how simple effective prose can be. His tips, while perhaps not entirely applicable to all writers in all contexts, are universally worthy of consideration. ( )
  dowswell | Jul 25, 2021 |
The first thing I look for in a book on writing is that it’s well-written, something I don’t always find. This one is. It moves quickly and employs a lively style.
The first section is on King's life: how he became a writer (more accurately, how the writer he was born to be was formed), and his life as a writer, including interesting details on his preferred writing space and his break with addiction.
The second section, roughly fifty percent longer, is his writing advice. Some of it endorses what most writing experts share: for instance, nouns and verbs are your bricks, adverbs weeds. Avoid the passive voice. He advises sticking with your own vocabulary, rather than mining the thesaurus for frills. He emphasizes the importance of sensible paragraphing — more important for the “beat” of the story than sentencing.
Some advice I’ve heard less frequently includes his warning against being too original with verbs of attribution. There is no problem sticking with “he said,” “she said,” unless there is a serviceable alternative (“shout,” “plead”). King distrusts pronouns. I never considered that; I’ll try to keep it in mind.
King brooks no dissent from his dictum, writers read. “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.”
Some advice is fresh, at least, I don’t remember reading it before. As to genre, for instance, he argues it is not something the writer chooses. You’ve already found your genre by the kind of books you enjoy reading. He’s similarly liberating when it comes to plot. While King admits plotting some of his books, they are, with one exception, not his favorites. He prefers to start with a situation, which he likens to locating a fossil in the ground, a story waiting to be excavated with care. To plot it can be as destructive as showing up on an archaeological dig with a jackhammer.
King offers balanced advice about description, including physical characteristics of his characters. “Thin description leaves the reader feeling bewildered and nearsighted. Overdescription buries him or her in details and images. The trick is to find a happy medium” (p. 174). He advises that the right details will often be the first that come to mind. But to King, description, helpful to the reader as it might be, comes a distant third behind action and dialogue.
I also liked his image for the difference between the first draft and the second (and subsequent). The first is writing with the door closed (an original way of expressing the standard advice to silence your inner critic while writing), followed by writing with the door open.
King ends the book with a postscript. I won’t spoil it; I’ll just say that it includes a poignant example of conjugal love.
The second thing I expect from a book on writing is encouragement. King delivers but also offers more than some other books: a fresh way of thinking about things I already know, as well as some useful advice new to me. A very good read. ( )
  HenrySt123 | Jul 19, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 446 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
King, Stephenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hobbing, ErichDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Juti, RikuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Knudsen, BertilTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kuipers, HugoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rekiaro, IlkkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Locus ( [2001]Non-Fiction2001)
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.
C. V.
First words
I was stunned by Mary Karr's memoir, The Liar's Club.
[Foreword] In the early nineties (it might have been 1992, but it's hard to remember when you're having a good time) I joined a rock-and-roll band composed mostly of writers.
[Second Foreword] This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit.
[Third Foreword] One rule of the road not directly stated elsewhere in this book: "The editor is always right."
"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)
(p79) Look — here's a table covered with a red cloth. ... Do we see the same thing? We'd have to get together and compare notes to make absolutely sure, but I think we do. There will be necessary variations, of course: some receivers will see a cloth which is turkey red, some will see one that's scarlet, while others may see still other shades. ... and a cat with an 8, clearly marked on its back in blue ink ... This is what we're looking at, and we all see it. I didn't tell you. You didn't ask me. I never opened my mouth and you never opened yours. We're not even in the same year together, let alone the same room ... except we are together. We're close. We're having a meeting of the minds.
(p102) The object of fiction isn't grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story ...
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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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Book description
Haiku summary
On Writing tells of

writer's background more than rules

aspirants should learn.


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