Sunday, August 28, 2011

On Writing by Stephen King | Review

Title: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Author: Stephen King
Published: January 1, 2000
Number of Pages: 297
Rating: 4.5/5


"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 childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 -- and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it -- fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told. []


“Grab that book you were looking at off the shelf again, would you? The weight of it in your hands tells you the other stuff that you can take in without reading a single word. The commitment the writer shouldered in order to create the work.”

“You didn’t ask me. I never opened my mouth, and you never opened yours. We’re not even in the same year together, let alone the same room…except we are together. We’re close. We’re having a meeting of the minds.”

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”


On Writing is the first book I’ve ever read by Stephen King; but I’m not quite sure if the fact it was a sort of ‘guide’ should say much. However, I did enjoy this. I loved King’s raw writing style, how he throws the facts on the table and leaves you to decipher them as you will. I will say that his memoir section of the book did bore me a few times; I considered just leaving it unfinished once or twice, but came up with nothing to do one day and finished reading it.

It’s actually been a while since I read it; so bear with me if my details are sort of vague. I’m slacking. The book started to interest me more when I reached “On Writing”, the actual section. I enjoyed his tips, deciphering his language, and I liked that he trusted the reader to interpret what he was saying no matter what they thought of it. I adored the way he compared writing to telepathy—and you know what? It is very possible that’s what it is!

Stephen King takes us on a journey that leads us into his mind: the mind of an amazing, brilliant writer. I underestimated Mr. King greatly—his step-by-step through the writer’s toolbox, through the characters and the dialogue and the craft of story making. The whole experience was actually very beautiful.

Something I have always, always, always struggled in with my drafts is wordiness; and King takes us through a first draft, and then editing it. I think I squealed when I got to that section. Giving us examples of how to omit needless words; how to avoid the enormous words that will simply make us stop, stutter, and wonder what the heck it means. He shows us that symbology must come in early; and so many other tips I’ve taken to heart.

I wish I had the book longer. That way I could have taken more notes. Oh well, I will more than likely buy it if I ever get the chance! Another of my favorite analogies he uses, and something I’ve actually thought of before but never considered it, is thinking writing a story is like creating a forest and watching it grow into a sprawling ecosystem of life.

That is writing. That is its nature. Writing is life for those who harness it and wish to learn it from the inside out; who want to become it and be its lover. Writing is a lifesaver for some, and it is and always will be the greatest thing many people have stumbled upon. It has been for Stephen King, it has been for other countless authors like Roald Dahl, Markus Zusak, and other honorable writers. It has been for me, and maybe it has been for you.

Create your forest. But before you do, take a look at this book!


Listening to: Musique pour la Tristesse de Xion [piano] - Yoko Shimomura
Watching: National Treasure
Reading: I have six or seven books to pick from atm!
Quote: "It's because I'm a witch." — Morgan Rowlands | Sweep | Cate Tiernan

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