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On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

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4.33  ·  Rating details ·  213,932 ratings  ·  16,908 reviews
"Long live the King" hailed Entertainment Weekly upon 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 childhoo ...more
Paperback, 10th Anniversary Edition, 291 pages
Published July 6th 2010 by Scribner (first published 2000)
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AJ Elliott There are so many things to take away from this book, but the one that always comes to mind first is "If you don't have time to read, you don't have t…moreThere are so many things to take away from this book, but the one that always comes to mind first is "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write." (less)
Jaime Totally agree about the digital prices being too high, but at the end of the day it is down to the publisher in terms of pricing.

They will maximize t…more
Totally agree about the digital prices being too high, but at the end of the day it is down to the publisher in terms of pricing.

They will maximize their profits where they are able.

All things being equal I prefer the physical books but digital makes it a lot easier to carry around a library in your pocket.(less)

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Jeffrey Keeten
”Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy okay? Getting happy.”

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to over my lifetime who wanted to write a book. Most didn’t know what they wanted to write about, but some of them wanted to write their autobiography
...more
Jayson
(A) 87% | Extraordinary
Notes: The first novel-length book I'd ever finished over the span of one day. Done over two sittings, with a nap in between.
Madeline
Nov 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ariel
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
There's this magic thing that happens sometimes: I can't wait to reread a book I haven't even finished yet. It's a rare feeling, but one that happens whenever I'm in the midst of a new favourite book. I'm reading these amazing scenes, freaking out over fantastic passages, and already looking forward to the second time I'll read them, when they'll be even clearer and start to feel familiar.

It's a rare occurrence, it only happens a few times a year, but it happened with On Writing. The moment it s
...more
Wil Wheaton
Jan 02, 2010 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.
Fabian
Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So it's become 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 Stephen King, & all): the guy has useful insight, no shit, because he is not only prolific & uber-successful (he g ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Dec 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any aspiring writer
Shelves: read07, writing, favorites
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
Riku Sayuj
Aug 29, 2011 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
Joe Valdez
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
January 6, 2018 review

I'm kicking off my fifth year on Goodreads with a re-read of the best book about writing that I've read to date. I've considered that On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft--Stephen King's contribution to the crowded field of How To Write a Novel, published in 2000--might hold this slot due to King being one of my favorite living authors. Ball players can tune out a coach who never made it in the pros quicker than a guy who did and was a superstar to boot, and I'm certainly more
...more
Cecily
description

Like the curate’s egg, this is good in parts. I can see why writers, and budding writers find this book inspirational, and fans of his oeuvre will enjoy learning how certain stories came to be. But it’s several very different books and booklets, within a single set of covers - curious that a book about writing doesn't seem to know what sort of a book it is.

In one of the three forewords, King says “Most books about writing are filled with bullshit”. I found a fair bit here, too. But I also found
...more
Raeleen Lemay
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, nonfiction
I haven’t done much writing in the past few years, but reading this book made me want to get back into it. I think Stephen King’s advice will help me be more confident in my writing in the future! Loved this.
Dan Schwent
Feb 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, 2016-books, nf
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 lying 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 a
...more
Leonard Gaya
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stephen King — along with Jo Rowling and a handful other novelists —, is one of the most successful writers of our time (at least in commercially), with bestsellers such as The Shining, It or Misery. One might wonder if there is some sort of magic formula he is using to write his books. The secret, of course, is that there is no secret. This book, however, is an invitation behind the scenes of the author's work and career and a masterclass for aspiring writers.

The firsts section is about King's
...more
Johann (jobis89)
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"Books are a uniquely portable magic."

This book blew my mind!!! I mean, I knew I loved Stephen King and I already knew a lot of the things you learn in this book, but to read it in his own words is even better!

The biographical part of the book was truly amazing, this man has come through so much, whether it's alcoholism, the drug addiction or the accident which nearly killed him. And he's so humble and honest about all of these things. And it just makes me admire him even more.

As for the actual
...more
Grace (BURTSBOOKS)
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
There is NO ONE I trust more than Stephen King when it comes to writing
Tom Lewis
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For anyone who’s a Stephen King fan or aspiring writer, this should be a must-have. I listened to the Audible that’s read by King, and I highly recommend it. King’s as good of a storyteller vocally as he is on paper. The breakdown of the book goes like this – the first third is about his background, and what lead him to writing. The middle third is about the mechanics of writing, and for me it was more informative than any college course. He discusses “voice,” and themes, and story, and dialogue ...more
Hannah Greendale
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft offers an illuminating look at Stephen King's life, highlighting moments that shaped him as an author and revealing lessons he gained from decades of practice and publication.

King is unapologetically himself, blending whit and honesty with sophomoric humor and the occasional curse word. For example, when discussing the sin of using passive voice, King provides an example of how not to construct a sentence, followed by the type of commentary one can expect to fi
...more
Lizzy
Sep 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Robin
May 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers in need of encouragement
I'm a fan of Stephen King's earlier works and a lot of the classic movie adaptations. I wouldn't say I'm a superfan, but since I am working on changing my status of aspiring writer to published author, I can use all the help I can get, especially from someone as prolific and universally read as he.

We all know King is a master storyteller. So it's not surprising that for much of this book, he's doing just that. The first big chunk of this book is his "C.V." - a charming memoir of his childhood wh
...more
Cristina Monica
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, writing
In hindsight, it wasn’t such a good idea to make this my first Stephen King book. It has kindled in my heart a deep interest in many of his novels… but spoiled me for a couple he discussed in detail. Regardless, I appreciated his thoughts on writing and what made him a writer. Also, I loved how often he mentioned his wife. Any chance he got, really. Cute.
Andrew Smith
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
Jason Koivu
Jun 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
C.
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: before-2012
On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft” is one of my favourite books: an easy five stars! This was my birthday gift from my youngest brother about fifteen years ago and in 2009, I read it. I knew a writer's manual would be ideal for me. The combination of Stephen King’s autobiography and excellent writing advice are stellar!

An update no one would want, occurred partway through this instructional hybrid. Stephen survived a severe accident, as a pedestrian! When he resumed this book, he added that acc
...more
David Putnam
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite books on writing and I've read it several times. Since it's also a well written memoir the structure as presented becomes an easy way to learn the art of writing. At the back of the book is a section he shows how he edits some of his own work. He also describes what happened when the van struck him while he walked on the side of the road. Absolutely chilling.
This book is a great insight into a brilliant craftsman, one of the best writer's of our time. I highly recomme
...more
Diane
This book on writing was even better than I expected. I loved that Stephen King shared some memories from childhood and explained how he became a writer.

This book helped me knock off two goals in one: I've been trying to read the best Stephen King books (good grief, the man is prolific) and I'm trying to read more books about writing. King has good advice on ways to improve your writing, but he also has some knockout stories about his life and how they've influenced his novels.

The book ends wi
...more
Rebecca McNutt
Some people idolize Stephen King, others say his work is dreadfully overhyped, but love him or loathe him, it can't be denied that's he's a very successful writer. While his books are often formulaic and full of tropes, their interconnected universe, the human truth beneath the fiction and his ability to capture the uglier side of modern America, King knows what sells, but more importantly, he also knows what America fears most of all. On Writing is the book which looks into how King writes, but ...more
Lou
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
Helene Jeppesen
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was amazing! Much more than I had hoped for!
As a semi-fan of Stephen King and his writing (I love some of his books, I feel like a lot of the others are dragging), I didn’t really know what to get out of this non-fictional work on writing. I was curious to hear about this craft from one of the most prolific and popular authors out there, but mostly I wanted a behind-the-scenes look on what it’s like to write a book.
I was surprised to find myself immersed from the very beginning, where Ste
...more
Elizabeth Sagan
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a good read for someone who is either interested in Stephen King’s life or wants to become a writer and needs either tips to do it better or some motivation to keep going. If you don’t find yourself in these categories, skip this book.

I’m the kind of person who would read this guy’s socks label if I could, so yeah, 5 stars.
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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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