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On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

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4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  133,371 Ratings  ·  10,244 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)
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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
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17th out of 122 books — 2,765 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
Jul 15, 2016 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nf, 2016, 2016-books
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
Fabian
Sep 27, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it
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 V. 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 and uber-successful (he got $400,000 for ...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
Lizzy
Sep 04, 2016 Lizzy rated it really liked it
It's rare to find an author that adventures into writing about his craft, but Stephen King, with On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, is not one of them. Great book: good tips (best one: write something you would want to read!) on how to write along with a nice memoir. Recommended.
فهد الفهد
Feb 28, 2015 فهد الفهد 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
Vitor Martins
"Escrever é mágico, é a água da vida. A água é de graça. Então beba.
Beba até ficar saciado."


Eu nunca tinha lido nada do Stephen King, . Comecei por Sobre a Escrita e sinto que conheci esse homem por toda a vida.

Mais do que um manual sobre a arte de escrever, esse livro traz muitos ensinamentos sobre a vida. É um livro curto, direto, didático, divertido e muito envolvente! Marquei minhas passagens favoritas porque Sobre a Escrita é o tipo de livro para pegar, reler, relembrar e aprender tudo de
...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
Dannii Elle
On Writing is more than the title describes: it is an instruction manual for both aspiring and seasoned writers alike, and it is also an autobiographical account of King's life.

This was a surprisingly quick read. I was expecting it to be a lot denser and, to be honest, literary. Not to say that I did not enjoying it, because I most definitely did! I loved the non-linear way King recounted his journey to the man and the writer he is known as today. He is just utterly fascinating to read about.

Th
...more
Blake Crouch
Jul 02, 2016 Blake Crouch rated it it was amazing
Simply the greatest book ever written about the craft of writing. I have read it more times than I can count, and each new encounter teaches me something new. I imagine even non-writers would thoroughly enjoy Mr. King's memoir.
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
Sherwood Smith
I really enjoy writing books if they aren’t too pompous (telling the reader what to do, and passing judgment on what is Good and Bad, especially along the old axioms that what white men write is important, what women write is silly romance, and Literary Books ought to be dreary and tough to read) because it’s fascinating as well as fun to see others’ writing process from the inside.

I’d heard that Stephen King had written a book about writing, but I hadn’t reached for it as I know he mainly write
...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
সালমান হক
সুযোগ থাকলে এই বইটাকে দশটা সটার দিতেও পিছপা হতাম না । কি সুনদর বৈঠকি ঢঙে গলপ করে গেলেন । পরথম এক তৃতীয়াংশ অনেকটাই সমৃতিচারণ । সাথে এখানে সেখানে লেখালেখির ওপর একটু আধটু টিপস । তার লেখক হয়ে ওঠার গলপ । এটা জেনে অবাক হলাম না যে শুরুতে তাকেও অনযদের মতই সটরাগল করে উপরে উঠতে হয়েছে ।
এটা কিনতু লেখালেখির ওপর কোন টেকসটবুক না । একজন উঠতি লেখকের কি কি একসপেকটেশন থাকা উচিৎ, কিভাবে সব কিছু শুরু করা উচিৎ তার একটা গাইডপলাইন বলতে পারেন । কযারেকটারাইজেশন, ফলো , বিলড-আপ নিয়ে তার নিজসব উপদেশও ভালো লেগেছে ।
সবাই পড়
...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
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
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
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YA Buddy Readers'...: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft By Stephen King - Restarting August 15th 2016 23 28 Sep 14, 2016 12:02PM  
Goodreads Librari...: combine please 2 128 Sep 13, 2016 04:32AM  
Need feedback: Course & Book -- Principles of Writing 1 9 Aug 11, 2016 06:15AM  
Stephen King Fans: On Writing 168 331 Jul 12, 2016 06:52AM  
Play Book Tag: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King - 5 stars 4 20 Jul 04, 2016 01:58PM  
Your thoughts? 11 29 May 26, 2016 08:59AM  
How long does it take you to write a book? 80 3591 May 22, 2016 10:30AM  
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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
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