Michael Scott's Reviews > On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

On Writing by Stephen King
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's review
Jan 08, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, non-fiction, teaching, writing-about-on
Read in February, 2009

This book binds together three very different parts: an autobiography, the part teaching the art of writing according to Stephen King, and a description of the author's current life and work (current means in the year 2000). The book reads easily, and, though helping with nothing in improving your writing skills, I enjoyed the auto-biography of Stephen King; from it, the author looks like a nice and down-to-earth person, which is contrary to the preconceived idea I had about big-earning horror-writing individuals.

I really liked the teaching part for two reasons: it describes how to write if you are an intuitive writer, and it shows how a thorough reviewing/rewriting process can be used by an intuitive writer to produce publishable results. In a way, the teachings of this book are the exact opposite of James N. Frey's: start writing as soon as possible vs. design your characters and story thoroughly before writing, start with the story vs. start with the characters, show the book's pre-publish draft to family and friends vs. show it to unrelated experts, etc. I guess it can be done both Stephen King and James N. Frey's ways, and both are 'the right way'. For me, the irony of reading both How to Write a Damn Good Novel and On Writing is that James N. Frey's restrictive writing process is intuitive, but I would have never imagined that a successful author could work in such an unrestricted way as described by Stephen King.

This book could do with a bit more details in the teaching part, and less or even none of the other two. Therefore, my rating is 4 stars instead of 5. (btw, I cut this review by 10% on the second draft)
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Reading Progress

01/23/2009 page 1
01/26/2009 page 25
7.81% "...crawling through the cv part... was it the editor who requested it?"
01/29/2009 page 150
46.88% "...I finally found the interesting part..."
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Comments (showing 1-5)

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Tammy I haven't read Frey's book yet, but I did thoroughly enjoy this one.

Nice review btw.

message 4: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim I found his whining about the guy in the van to be completely distracting. I felt for him, but to put it in this book was just a pity party. I agree the tips on writing were great & he even had some humor in it.

message 3: by Henrik (new)

Henrik Nice review, Michael. I read it shortly after it was published and remember it as quite entertaining as well as insightful. Sure, there are books that go more "in-depth", but King manages to cut to the chase, so to speak, when writing about--well--writing;-) I appreciated that.

message 2: by Lindy (new)

Lindy To Jim, who was whining about King whining with regard to the guy in the van that hit him... it happened during or right around the time he wrote the book, so it was probably on his mind a little bit. Sheesh!

message 1: by Ayana (new) - added it

Ayana Miller I do agree with this complete comment. I feel as if Stephen King talked more about his personal family details rather then actually how to write. Although with the small/large amount of details, they were specific and provided good details. I don't really think this book would be technicially good for a beginner writer to start off with but for the other writers who have had experience it's pretty well. Stephen King is a great author and I will say this is one of his good books but I think he could have slightly done better with more details then his family and own personal experience.

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