On Writing : A Memoir of the Craft ,
by Stephen King

Books for Writers : Book Reviews


On Writing : A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King -- Please select an edition to check the price ...
Hardcover
Scribner, October 2000, 288 Pages
Paperback
Pocket Books, May 2001, 288 pages
Audio Book on Cassette Tapes - Unabridged
Simon &Schuster, October 2000
Audio Book on Audio CD - Unabridged
Simon &Schuster, October 2000
Hardcover - Large Print Edition
Scribner, October 2000, 432 Pages
Download e-book
for use with Microsoft Reader

Notes about the e-book edition:
e-book file size = 1,657 K. There is a free download of the required Microsoft Reader.
Requires Microsoft Windows. Not compatable with Macintosh.
The only handhelds that can use it are the Pocket PC 2002 types. (Which handheld models are compatable?)
(See all downloadable e-books at Amazon.com)

Note: This book was on the New York Times Bestsellers List for Hardcover Nonfiction from October 2000 to May 2001.

Find all books by Stephen King       Find all biographies and memoirs

Book Description from the Publisher

On Writing : A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

            On Writing begins with a mesmerizing account of King's childhood and his early focus on writing to tell a story. A series of vivid memories from adolescence, college, and the struggling years that led up to his first novel, Carrie , offer a fresh and often funny perspective on the formation of a writer.

            King then turns to the tools of his trade, examining crucial aspects of the wriiter's art and life, offering practical and inspiring advice on everything from plot and character development to work habits and rejection.

            King was in the middle of writing this book when he was nearly killed in a widely reported accident. On Writing culminates with a profoundly moving account of how his need to write spurred him toward recovery, and brought him back to his life.


© 2002 Tallyshooter.com
This review is posted with
the permission of the authors.

            If you're serious about writing fiction, you may want to take a gander at Mr. King's slant on the how-to thereof. This is, of course, merely suggested reading, but once you begin to read King's words -- you may become like-minded in that he might be a genius:

  • If you're just starting out as a writer and have no direction -- this book will provide you with direction.
  • If you're drafting a short story or a novel, stop what you're doing, buy this book -- read it -- and then start all over (just kidding, but you still might want to read this book before you send a manuscript to a lit agent or publisher).
  • Ditto if you're preparing to send off synopses and query letters -- you must ...

            Anyway. Hope we've made our point.

            Even if you don't like King's usual writing style, or his genres -- his book is such a powerful treatise on rubber-meets-the-road writing skills – containing real-world samples -- you'll feel as though you have to read it front-to-back, and then do it all over again while taking notes.

            A few excerpts to allow you to determine whether we are right:

            Note: King's On Writing tale begins with his first inklings of writerhood (during his childhood), progresses through the grunt work that every good writer must undertake (he was not an overnight success story; his sweatshop days consisted of attempting to freelance scary short stories into mainstream and B-grade magazines), and then carries you through his mainstream work as a novelist -- with numerous mentions of other works and authors. The final chapters of the book bring you up-to-date on his present work.

            On Writing is essentially an autobiography interspersed with the king's rather deep writing philosophy: his thought process is outlined via identifying and defining writing mechanics smack-dab within the context of his words:

  • King is self-effacing: "... I also felt that time was on my side; sooner or later the best-selling writers of the sixties and seventies would die or go senile, making room for newcomers like me."
  • He has a killer wit: "... After reading a couple of my stories in Eh-77 (a comp class emphasizing fiction), Professor Holmes asked Crain if he would look at a selection of my work. Crain agreed, but we never had much of an association—he was in his eighties, unwell, and died shortly after our first correspondence. I can only hope it wasn't my initial batch of stories that killed him."
  • He tells you about the tools he used while growing as a writer: "You must begin as your own advocate, which means reading the magazines publishing the kind of stuff you write. You should also pick up the writers' journals and buy a copy of Writer's Market , the most valuable of tools for the writer new to the marketplace. If you're really poor, ask someone to give it to you for Christmas..."
  • King pulls no punches (when speaking of a college writing class): "... And, instead of pelting these babbling idiots with their own freshly toasted marshmallows, everyone else sitting around the fire is often nodding and smiling and looking solemnly thoughtful. In too many cases the teachers and writers in residence are nodding, smiling, and looking solemnly thoughtful right along with them. It seems to occur to few of the attendees that if you have a feeling you just can't describe, you might just be, I don't know, kind of like, my sense of it is, maybe in the wrong <expletive deleted> class."

            One of the most valuable facets of the book -- and there is no mention of this in any of the 290 or so reviews at Amazon -- is that King spends a considerable amount of time critiquing his fellow, successful writers. Put another way: everyone (King included) mimics other writers at some point in time in their learning years, so you might want to read what King says about your favorite authors before you continue mimicking any particular writing style.

            Last item and then we'll shut up: King is wise beyond his fifty-something years, and obviously picked up early on from his own trial and error. If you consider that he has more accumulated wealth than all of his detracting critics -- On Writing becomes a bit of a must-have item -- at least for those that are serious about becoming mainstream writers.

            Cool tip: King places a budding-writer invite on page 159 in his book. He prefaces the invite with a role-reversal writing exercise, and then states: "When you finish your exercise, drop me a line at Stephenking.com and tell me how it worked for you (go to his site and select Contact)." He doesn't promise to answer every reply, but he does promise to "read at least some of your adventures with great interest."

            Warning: Again, King pulls no punches. There's nothing scary within the pages of On Writing (other than his intellect), however his <expletives> are not deleted. So -- if you're interested in also becoming famous and/or rich -- you'll just skip over those parts and read what he has to say on the subject of writing.


On Writing : A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King -- Please select an edition ...
Hardcover
Scribner, October 2000, 288 Pages
Paperback
Pocket Books, May 2001, 288 pages
Audio Book on Cassette Tapes - Unabridged
Simon &Schuster, October 2000
Audio Book on Audio CD - Unabridged
Simon &Schuster, October 2000
Hardcover - Large Print Edition
Scribner, October 2000, 432 Pages
Download e-book
for use with Microsoft Reader