Wes Locher's Reviews > On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

On Writing by Stephen King
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's review
Apr 11, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2010-reads, essays, memoir, writing-reference
Read from June 12 to 22, 2010

I grew up reading Stephen King books but as my taste in books changed he dropped off my radar. Imagine my surprise ten years later when I discovered that one of my early writing heroes had written a book on the craft!

This isn't your average book about writing. Think of it as The Elements of Style but... entertaining. King's writing rules aren't the law but simply suggestions from a (bestselling) author containing tips and tricks that he had learned over the years that he's been in the business.

Since King is a fiction author most of his advice falls into that genre but a lot of his rules can be applied to non-fiction as well. Regardless of what you're writing I promise that you'll be learning and be highly entertained in the process.

The first half of this book is a memoir that highlights points in Stephen's life that he attributes to making him the writer he is today. If you're a fan of his work as I am then you will find this section interesting of it's own merit and more than likely appreciate his work on a deeper level. You don't need to be familiar with his books in order to enjoy this one, but I promise you'll want to give some of hem a read (or re-read) by the time you are done. You may see a lot of yourself in his memoirs or you might have grown through a very different path but it will have you examining yourself and what brought you to the point of being a writer. Hearing about King's rejections and successes will motivate you to be persistent and not give up. (As if that was ever an option, right?)

The second half of this book hits on his tips and tricks whether hat be finding a good place to write, finding your muse, when to write with the "door open," and when to keep it closed. He shares his thoughts on how to build a writer's toolbox (along with what tools should be inside), and how to draw inspiration out of everything you do, see, or hear.

King uses a ton of examples from other works, both classic and lesser known, pointing out strengths and weaknesses in all. You'll be surprised to find out which classic books he believes to be rubbish!

If read and absorbed correctly you'll start reading with a keen eye while examining the structures, dialog, themes, and details that make great books truly great.

If you're not a writer you can enjoy this book (it DID hit the bestseller list, after all), but if you are out to learn and study the form, King's real world advice will be priceless knowledge.

Highly recommended reading, and I'm sure it will find a permanent spot on your reference shelf right next to Strunk and White.
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