Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” as Want to Read:
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

by
4.29  ·  Rating Details  ·  126,323 Ratings  ·  9,589 Reviews
“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon the publication of Stephen King's On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King's advice is grounded in his vivid memories from chil ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 25th 2002 by Pocket Books (first published October 3rd 1999)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about On Writing, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Kat Kirst There were so many things: Tell the story. Let the Characters evolve within the story and see where it all goes. Hit all the readers' senses-let them…moreThere were so many things: Tell the story. Let the Characters evolve within the story and see where it all goes. Hit all the readers' senses-let them see, smell, hear, feel and taste the story. Let them identify with it- don't tell them everything. Watch your basics; use your tools. Read Elements of Style. Beware of passive tense unless you mean to use it. Be wary of too much description including adjectives and adverbs. Be committed. Practice. Read. Practice. Be true to your craft, the characters, and the story. Put part of what you know in your MS, and make the rest up. See it. Feel it. Write it. Did I mention practice?(less)
On Writing by Stephen KingThe Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.Bird by Bird by Anne LamottWriting Down the Bones by Natalie GoldbergEats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
Best Books on Writing
1st out of 541 books — 1,041 voters
The Stand by Stephen KingIt by Stephen KingThe Shining by Stephen KingMisery by Stephen King'Salem's Lot by Stephen King
Best of Stephen King
16th out of 120 books — 2,677 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Madeline
Dec 16, 2015 Madeline rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
Let's be honest: Stephen King is not one of the greatest writers of all time. He will never win a Pulitzer or a Nobel (he might win a Newberry though, if he ever decides to tap into the Kids/Young Adult market), and on the few times his books are featured in the New York Times Book Review, the reviewer will treat the book with a sort of haughty disdain, knowing their time could be better spent trashing Joyce Carol Oates.

None of this should suggest, however, that King is not qualified to write a
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Dec 17, 2007 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Any aspiring writer
Shelves: read07, favorites, writing
I read this shortly after finishing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year, actually it would be more accurate to say I devoured it. This is full of great writing advice, and I'll need to get a copy and read it 1-2 times a year. Most helpful? The section on grammar! Seriously, I never really learned grammar.
"Gould said something else that was interesting on the day I turned in my first two pieces: write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being jus
...more
Wil Wheaton
Jan 02, 2010 Wil Wheaton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-project
I know it's like saying "puppies are cute," but it bears repeating: everyone who wants to write, whether for a living or not, simply must read this book.

On Writing did more for me as a writer than anything, and any success I've found as a storyteller can be traced to my reading it.
Riku Sayuj
Sep 11, 2013 Riku Sayuj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is great and if you like writing, it is probably a must read.

I could write a summary of the book, it is easy enough to summarize and there are only a few important points that King presents, but then I dont want you to get it for free. :) Go and read the book yourself, it is worth it.

Rude? As King says, "...if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write
...more
Dan Schwent
May 20, 2016 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nf, 2016
Stephen King shares some stories of his past and some writing tips.

This was either my fourth or fifth time reading this. I got it for Christmas around the turn of the century and I've buzz-sawed through it a few times before. The first time, I was just cutting my writing teeth. Now, with seven or eight first drafts of novels writing around, I came to the book with a completely different perspective.

Most books about writing, as I've said before, are by people I've never heard of, and are akin to
...more
J. Kent Messum
There are countless books out there on writing, storytelling, screenwriting, style, etc. A lot of them are too formulaic and more than a bit bloody cliche. To be honest, the majority usually prove to be a waste of time. But there are a few that are great, and 'On Writing' is definitely one of them. Stephen King is a household name, no doubt, but of all Mr. King’s books, this is the one I praise the most. Part biography, part ‘How-to’ manual, this book is a must-read for anyone and everyone.

Ther
...more
Lou
Sep 25, 2012 Lou rated it it was amazing
This is a must read for writers, readers and Stephen King fans.
Fully laden with inspiration to walk the walk and start that journey of writing a story of you're own from short story to a full novel. Imagine great writers of the past like Dickens around to give advice to aspiring writers it's a real opportunity to grasp.

This man, Stephen King, worked hard to make himself into a writer and had sheer determination, from working all hours to pay his college education to writing his first stories i
...more
Jason Koivu
Mar 25, 2014 Jason Koivu rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, writing
On Writing is for me hands-down the best book I've read about the craft of writing and living the life of a writer by a writer.

This is not a textbook on grammar and sentence structure. No, the subtitle very succinctly describes the contents. This is about Stephen King's journey to become a published author and his experiences in wrestling with words.

To hear stories about how one of the world's most popular authors once upon a time struggled just like the rest of us mortals is refreshing. Those
...more
Andrew Smith
Feb 02, 2016 Andrew Smith rated it really liked it
This is very much a book of three parts. In the first section, King provides a series of anecdotes that seem somewhat fractured and random. They loosely cover his early years, the time before he became a successful writer. Some of the tales are a little spooky, to be honest. Others clearly portray what it was like for him, his wife and his children when he was spending long hours writing whilst also holding down a day job. He had a number of jobs, some pretty menial, but he eventually settled in ...more
Fahad
Feb 28, 2015 Fahad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
On Writing

حصلت على هذا الكتاب وقرأته على الكندل، كأول تجربة لي مع هذا الجهاز الرائع والذي صنع بعناية للقراء، أكثر ما أعجبني في الكندل هو أنه يخبرك عن السطور التي أعجبت الكثير من الناس فقاموا بتظليلها، هكذا تتشارك القراءة مع كل من اشترى الكتاب وقرأه على الكندل مثلك.

كتب ستيفن كنج عشرات الروايات والقصص، يكتب بمعدل عالٍ، وتتحول قصصه إلى أفلام شهيرة حال صدورها، في هذا الكتاب يتحدث كنج عن تجربته، عن بداياته مع الكتابة والظروف الصعبة التي مر بها، وكيف كان يعمل في وظيفتين ليعيل زوجة وطفلين، ثم يعود لي
...more
Leah Heard
Sep 21, 2008 Leah Heard rated it it was amazing
I wish I could give this book more than five stars. The first 100 or so pages were highly colored anecdotes from SK's childhood (did you know Stephen King had an obese, negligent babysitter who used to sit on his head and fart? me neither). I thought the whole book was going to be like this--a personal history intertwined with the occasional tip about persistence, and that was OK with me. That's how entertaining the first bit is. It certainly makes the book worth reading even for those uninteres ...more
Becky
Dec 16, 2015 Becky rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Stephen King Fans
I love Stephen King. I'm not IN love with him, but I love his writing, his stories, his characters, and now, his advice: "Read a lot." (4-6 hours a day, even!)

Yessir, Mr. King! Finally some advice I want to heed! OK, I should say that this is really only a small fraction of the wisdom he imparts in this book, and I neglectfully left out the "write a lot" part that immediately follows "read a lot".

But I have never actually aspired to be a writer, so the reading part is good enough for me. I adm
...more
Stepheny


What better day to post a review for this book than on Stephen King’s birthday?

Happy Birthday, ya crazy bastard. ;)

Anyway- as most of the GR community knows I am the real life Annie Wilkes a huge fan of Stephen King. He has been a major influence in my life since I was about 10 years old. His writing changed my life. His books changed my mind; my way of thinking.

Listen, not everyone knows this but I’m about to out myself. I am an aspiring writer. I don’t flash it, I don’t wave it out there for
...more
Charlene
Although I have no intention of writing anything other than reviews, I found this book about writing to be interesting and chock full of good information.

The first portion was autobiographical in nature, and that was the part I enjoyed most. Hearing about King's menial jobs and how hard he worked, combined with the drug and alcohol abuse and other obstacles he's overcome, made him seem more real to me, somehow. More like a regular guy.

The parts on writing, even though I'm not an author, were h
...more
Arah-Lynda
Mar 05, 2013 Arah-Lynda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top, to-the-island, i-said
I think that this was a very courageous book for Stephen King to write.


And I loved the casual, conversational tone as King shares with us, glimpse’s into his life both before and after his initial success. He doesn’t pull any punches either; we see the good, the bad and the ugly.

It is somehow, not at all, and exactly what I expected. In truth, I loved the memoir part best but even those parts that are instructional in the art of writing are very engaging.

Is it not incredible, that such a gif
...more
Julie
100 percent loved this. I may even knock it up to "It was amazing" as its treasure trove of advice sinks in.

Here's the thing: Stephen King knows how to tell a story. From the early to late 80s- junior high through mid-university years- I read nearly everything he'd written. His novels are the only of the horror-genre that I've read; it's never been my cup of tea, either in print or film, but King's writing has always been a cut above. He is the literary equivalent of Bruce Springsteen. I don't
...more
Thomas
This is a fantastic book about writing - recommended to me by numerous friends and acquaintances, it did not disappoint. With most nonfiction I feel as if I do not really need to remember every detail or fact listed, but with On Writing I wish that I could. It offers an abundance of useful advice that would do any writer much good, regardless of age or experience.

At first I felt unsettled by the anecdotes - when I began the novel, I expected something like "writing = grammar + salesmanship" or s
...more
Fabian
May 19, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it
“On Writing” Stephen King. 6/24/12

So it's very clear to me now that very few writers actually write about the craft. The only Latin American writer to do so? Mario Vargas Llosa (who took several years off of his busy novel-writing to write about his now-ex-pal Gabriel Garcia Marquez). But I suddenly forgot who the King was (no, I mean literally: I've not read him in years! High school being the prime time for King, and all): the guy has useful insight, no shit, because he is not only prolific an
...more
Katharine (Ventureadlaxre)
Dec 22, 2008 Katharine (Ventureadlaxre) rated it liked it
Recommends it for: wannabe authors
Shelves: on-writing, read-2008
Well now. I have never read any of Stephen King's work, and after reading this... well, now I don't really want to.

He came across as a pretentious sod and honestly, I'm put off by his tone and how he ... well, he really sounded condescending in many parts of this. I hesitate at saying such things over an author who everyone else seems to love, but... well, I'm just saying 'What I Learned from this book.'

It has some good parts, yes, but the main thing I agreed with him on is the one thing almost
...more
Quentin Wallace
Apr 22, 2015 Quentin Wallace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let me start by saying I think every writer that is even a casual Stephen King fan should read this book. I would even suggest reading it through one time, then going back over the writing portions again. It offers very straightforward advice on how to make your writing better. About half of the book is a memoir, and the other half is writing advice and tips. The memoir does tie into the writing part, however, by showing some of his motivation and things that lead him to write the way he does. I ...more
Franco  Santos
Escribir es mágico; es, en la misma medida que cualquier otra arte de creación, el agua de la vida. El agua es gratis. Así que bebe. Bebe y sacia tu sed.
Es uno de los libros más curiosos de King. Yo pensaba, antes de comprarlo, que iba a ser muy pesado y aburrido.
Me equivoqué.
Stephen logra enseñarnos el oficio de la escritura de manera distendida, fluida, entretenida, y hasta graciosa.

Los libros son una magia única portátil.

Esta novela de no-ficción tiene también una breve biografía del
...more
Nicola
May 01, 2007 Nicola rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers of all sorts
Shelves: nonfiction
Stephen King’s book On Writing offers insight into how one writer grew into his style and what defines the way he works on his craft. This is not the end all and be all for all writers but simply an example of how it can be done. King also provides valuable information on some of the technicalities of writing, including a very helpful simile likening a writer’s skills to a toolbox.

One extremely helpful notion King illustrated in his book was the idea of the Ideal Reader. This is the person you h
...more
AJ Griffin
Jul 03, 2007 AJ Griffin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone who understandably assumed stephen king sucked at pretty much everything
Everything I've ever heard about this book was prefaced with something along the lines of "I know Stephen King kind of sucks, but..." and that seems pretty fair to me. I'm not a big (or, rather, not at all) fan of horror shit, and even though I grew up living about an hour away from the dude I never felt compelled to anything of his (though he does have a cool gate at his house)

I guess I borrowed this from someone, as I no longer have it. It was a long time ago, but I remember getting the impres
...more
Tracey
Feb 20, 2015 Tracey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, bio, 5-star
Never saw that coming. I don’t read horror novels; I don’t tolerate the whole genre well. (I tried to watch some of Halloween H2O when it played at the theatre I was working in – I lasted four not particularly terrifying minutes.) Prior to last week I’d read three of his books: Gerald’s Game, which I had to read for school (art school, that is: we had to do a cover for a Stephen King novel; don’t know how I chose this one), Rose Madder (did I get it from the library? I don’t own it…), and The Ey ...more
José
Apr 07, 2016 José rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stephen-king
Reseña en mi blog: Click Aquí.
Sección con reseñas de Stephen King y recomendaciones en este enlace.

"Escribir no es cuestión de ganar dinero, hacerse famoso, ligar mucho ni hacer amistades. En último término, se trata de enriquecer las vidas de las personas que leen lo que haces, y al mismo tiempo enriquecer la tuya. Es levantarse, recuperarse y superar lo malo. Ser feliz, vaya. Ser feliz. (...) Escribir es mágico; es, en la misma medida que cualquier otra arte de creación, el agua de la vida. E
...more
Joey
Dec 12, 2014 Joey rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs, language, writing
Carrie , Bags of Bones, The Shining, The Dark Tower, you name it- I always turn my back on them whenever I spot them at my stomping ground. I guess Stephen King’s are not my cup of coffee. I had the conception that writing gothic novels is intended to scare out of readers’ wit. Nevertheless, after reading On Writing, I want to make a stab at his works.

On Writing is all about King’s writing experiences, especially how he developed his skills in writing fictions. Also, the last three parts deal w
...more
Dustin
Aug 02, 2012 Dustin rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: favorites

Roughly one month ago, my old paperback copy of King's On Writing resurfaced, seemingly happenstance, and I, in turn, told my wife, Tanya, that she should read it.
"You really should," I emphasized.
She demurred, practically insisting I re-read it.
"Even though it would be my third reading?" I asked, incredulous that she'd suggest such a thing.
She went on to say--and hope--that it'd inspire me enough to write again.

Needless to say, her words impacted me, and I couldn't clear my mind of the no
...more
Jillian
Sep 20, 2008 Jillian rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Writers, King fans
I thought this was great. I'm going to list some pearls of wisdom and favorite facts I learned.
-Editors are always right.
-Buy the Elements of Style. Check!
-King's wife is a feminist. Her name is Tabitha.
-King likes the Ramones:)
-King's a democrat that worked at the library:)
-Quote, "My generation had the chance to change the world, and the chose to go shopping instead." Yup:(
-King's from Maine.
-The term, "slits-o-clock," definition: getting drunk at 6 p.m.
-I love what King says about his wife gi
...more
Alison
Jul 24, 2008 Alison rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: readers, writers
Shelves: ew25best
You don't have to be a fan of Stephen King's work to appreciate this memoir--part auto-biography, part instructional guide to writing.

I was most caught up in his stories recalling his early days as a writer (as a child up until he sold the paperback rights to Carrie). I also enjoyed his common sense, accessible advice for writers (up until the point when he talks about finding agents, etc.--that was actually a little boring to me, although I know he meant well).

I enjoyed his voice--casual, frie
...more
Jennifer
Mar 27, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Excellent book about writing. I'd never read King before because I'm just not a horror fan, but he can really write and he comes off as likable and funny in this part memoir/part writing guidebook.
In the first half of the book he talks about growing up and how he got into writing while the second half is devoted to practical advice on writing. I found myself highlighting passages that I wanted to remember, which I tend not to do.
I've read a couple other books more recently on writing - The War
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Your thoughts? 11 25 May 26, 2016 08:59AM  
How long does it take you to write a book? 80 3152 May 22, 2016 10:30AM  
YA Buddy Readers'...: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft By Stephen King - Starting May 11th 2016 15 10 May 22, 2016 08:47AM  
On wirtting 14 145 May 19, 2016 03:42PM  
What're Your Top 5 Least Favorite Stephen King novels? 22 136 May 19, 2016 03:41PM  
On Writing 66 511 May 19, 2016 03:34PM  
Around the Year i...: On Writing, by Stephen King 3 14 Mar 29, 2016 01:13PM  
  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print
  • Characters and Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Writing the Breakout Novel
  • Telling Lies for Fun & Profit
  • Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish
  • Stein On Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies
  • The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile
  • Chapter After Chapter: Discover the Dedication & Focus You Need to Write the Book of Your Dreams
  • Scene and Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • On Becoming a Novelist
  • Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
  • The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers
  • Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew
  • The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression
  • Plot
  • Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life
  • Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them
3389
Stephen Edwin King was born the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his father left them when Stephen was two, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father's family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, M ...more
More about Stephen King...

Share This Book



“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” 12620 likes
“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” 4898 likes
More quotes…