On Writing

On Writing

A Memoir of the Craft

Book - 2010
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Stephen King reflects on how his writing has helped him through difficult times and describes various aspects of the art of writing.
Publisher: New York, NY :, Scribner,, 2010.
Edition: Scribner trade pbk. ed., 10th anniversary ed.
ISBN: 9781439193631
Branch Call Number: BIO KING S. King
Characteristics: x, 291 pages ;,22 cm


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List - Bookish Biographies
JCLMattC Sep 23, 2020

Who better to take us on a tour of the craft of writing than one of the great ones - Stephen King himself!

A funny and inspiring guide to writing. Lots of great concrete tips interspersed with interesting anecdotes about Stephen King's illustrious writing career.

JCLJulieT Oct 13, 2010

I like Mr. King so much. This book is well-written and engaging.

I feel like I got to know him a little better, and got to know myself as a writer better, too.

From the critics

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Aug 19, 2020

If you love Stephen King and want to know what he thinks about writing, this book will be one of your favorites.

May 14, 2020

I did not know this book would be an autobiography but it is. It starts with King's earliest attempts at writing and continues through Carrie (the breakthrough that was saved from the trash by his wife), and the near-fatal injuries sustained when hit by a van during the writing of this book. We learn not just his thoughts on the basics of writing (use active verbs, avoid adverbs) but his philosophy and approach to developing fiction. I am a nonfiction writer and so much of it is not directly applicable to my efforts, but fascinating and amusing nonetheless.

Dec 26, 2019

Stephen King talks about his life and give his best advice on writing.

4.5/5: This is a great book. The beginning memoir is immersive and captivating, and the advice that follows is told in a straightforward and meaningful way. I feel both allowed and motivated to write whatever I was and as much as I want :)

Nov 09, 2019

The book "On Writing" written by Stephen King is a mix of an autobiography and the most interesting instruction book you will read in a long time. It is a book that is one of a kind, especially from an author like Stephen King. In the book, I got to see the genius of Stephen King’s writing, how he can make even the most seemingly boring of the topics so interesting. We, the readers, can just appreciate how 3 dimensional the setting and the characters are. A lot of things from King’s life and his career get told. From when he was in grade 1 and afraid to go to the ear doctor because the doctor lied that every time was the last one and the least painful when it clearly wasn’t, to his substance abuse and how he grew to realize that he was an alcoholic. There is definitely a good share of traumatic or “uncomfortable” topics discussed in the book, but you have to give it some credit too: the comedy, when it is there, is just amazing. I cracked up quite a few times. I can only hope that my crackups were at all the correct moments. As you can see, the autobiography part was definitely really interesting. King described a ton of situations from his life that got him into writing, inspired him, prevented him from quitting everything and going down the rabbit hole of poverty. Those were definitely cool moments. The second part of the book was like a manual to writing. King tells us several secrets about writing, which mistakes it’s ok to make and which mistakes you should avoid at all costs. For example, it’s not good if everything is described in passive by you. (Hmm... Hold on a sec). Anyways, King describes writing as a toolbox. You fill it with different useful things like grammar, vocabulary and others. Then, you use them to express your ideas. But don’t let the toolbox get too big or it might as well lose its value as a toolbox! What I liked the most in the book was that it managed to continue being interesting throughout itself. King always added an itty-bitty share of humour, made the characters seem so real, entertained me AND told the story of his life as well as how I should become a writer. It kind of inspired me! 5/5 all the way through. @readermariacom of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

Jun 23, 2019

Because I'm not into the horror genre, this is the first book by Stephen King that I've ever read. However, I'm not at all embarrassed to say that because it's a wonderful book! What I liked most about it was that it wasn't all about how to write. It gave a lot of background about him (and I love that it was told in First Person which made me feel like he was speaking directly to me)and best of all, I found it hilarious. I read this many years ago and as someone who writes a lot I found his information very useful but what I remember most about this book was the section where he talks about finding out about "Carrie" being published in paperback and the money that he was going to receive for it. I don't remember all of the details but his recollection of that moment was so hilarious and honest that it has stayed with me for years. This is worth reading even if you aren't interested in becoming a writer, if only to read about this amazing author.

Mar 17, 2019

I was gifted this book by my grandfather, though I am sorry to say that I wasn't a huge fan. There was nothing wrong with it, except for the fact that it didn't establish a tone quickly enough, resulting in a slow, uninteresting start. I would consider reading it again to check if I had missed something, but not anytime soon.
I have just read it again, this book is confusing, the preface talks about how King doesn't want to get distracted or wistful or add BS to his writing advice, he promised he wouldn't waste the reader's time. Then he tells us about his life, from start to current day, it takes up half of the book, and it's a waste of time. Most of it is written to massage his own ego, as iot has nothing to do with writing most of the time, then towards the end he gets into the "advice", most of it has to do with how he's apparently such a genius for not believing in silly things like God, I mean no one's ever done that before (sarcasm). He talks about him, him, him. It doesn't help me trust him any more that he claims he was an alcoholic, glosses over it and still sings praises to his own "genius" when a lot of his titles, were huge flops. Thank you Mr.King, for wasting my time, I would much rather read one of your better titles which are fictional and have little if nothing to do with you.

Dec 03, 2018

Below I comment only on the part of King’s book that offers advice on writing, not the longer part of the book that is autobiographical. King is an admirer of the grammatical rules of Strunk and White, but is not overawed by them: “They are offered with a refreshing strictness, beginning with the rule on how to form possessives…and ending with ideas about where it it’s best to place the most important parts of a sentence. They say at the end, and everybody’s entitled to his/her opinion, but I don’t believe ‘With a hammer he killed Frank’ will ever replace ‘He killed Frank with a hammer’.)” Note that the first sentence in this quotation is, quite appropriately, in the passive case, which King counsels us not to use. He is too good a writer to be the prisoner of his own rules. English is an uninflected language with a pretty rigid word order compared to an inflected language like Russian, so as King notes, an effort to change word order for appropriate emphasis may come sound stilted or unnatural, even if it isn’t against the formal rules of grammar. King says his professional career was greatly helped by advice that may have come from Algis Budrys, the Soviet-born science-fiction writer: “Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%.” King believes the revision of most drafts, if it is to be effective, should be mainly geared to deletion of unnecessary words and phrases. King is no substitute for the Fowler brothers or George Orwell as a guide to writing English, but he doesn’t claim to be. Unlike them, he is our contemporary, so virtually nothing he writes is dated. It is a witty, charming book that made me want to finally read one of his bestselling novels.

I found the first half of the book was semi-autobiographical and it was quite interesting to know that Stephen King is very human, and not just some writing machine who is holed up in some dark room writing because that is all he knows. He couldn’t be further from that. The second half is very informative, and I would recommend it to any aspiring writer. (submitted by JO)

Nov 01, 2018

What an unexpected pleasure it was to read this book! I must say I was hesitant to pick it up because I'm not a big fan of Stephen King's novels (not really the genre I usually read). However, it was lots of fun, informative, and interesting. I enjoyed learning about Stephen's curious childhood antics and how his writing developed over time. Great read!

Oct 31, 2018

If anybody has the right to give writerly advice based solely on success, Stephen King is one of them. With so many novels and short stories under his belt, King offers the collected wisdom, both learned and discovered.

The opening half is a look back on major events that helped to shape King as a writer, and you can see how even the little things, things seemingly unimportant or silly, can influence somebody and really leave a mark on them. From silly stories to ones that make you laugh or even cringe, the first half of this book is a treasure trove of personal experience.

The second part of this book offers answers to commonly asked questions. The advice is solid, though I don’t agree with all of it. However, not everybody writes or thinks in the same way, so naturally nobody will agree with every bit of another person’s philosophy.

This book is a fun read as well as an informative one. I suggest it to anybody who has questions about writing. Well worth the time it takes to get through it.

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Add a Quote
Dec 26, 2019

"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" (King 269)

Dec 26, 2019

"Thin descriptions leaves the reader feeling bewildered and nearsighted. Overdescription buries him or her in details and images. The trick is to find the happy medium" (King 174)

Dec 26, 2019

"I want to suggest that to write to your best abilities, it behooves you to construct your own toolbox and then build up enough muscles so you can carry it with you. Then, instead of looking at a hard job and getting discouraged, you will perhaps seize the correct tool and get immediately to work" (King 114)

Dec 26, 2019

"And here we go-actual telepathy in action. You'll notice I have nothing up my sleeves and that my lips never move. Neither, most likely, do yours" (King 105)

Dec 26, 2019

"When you write a story, you're telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, you main job is taking out all the things that are not the story" (King 37)

Sep 25, 2019

'I want to suggest that to write to your best abilities, it behooves you to construct your own toolbox and then build up enough muscle so you can carry it with you. Then, instead of looking at a hard job and getting discouraged, you will perhaps seize the correct tool and get immediately to work.'
(King 114)

Sep 24, 2019

John Gould, editor, Lisbon's Weekly Enterprise: 'Your stuff starts out being just for you, in other words, but then it goes out. Once you know what the story is and get it right -- as right as you can, anyway -- it belongs to anyone who wants to read it.'
(King 57)

Aug 06, 2015

"Life isn't a support-system for art. It's the other way around."
(King, 101)

Jun 13, 2015

"Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just go to work."

Dec 17, 2013

"... sometimes even a monster is no monster. Sometimes it's beautiful and we fall in love with all that story, more than any film or TV program could ever hope to provide. Even after a thousand pages we don't want to leave the world the writer has made for us, or the make-believe people who live there."

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Dec 15, 2015

scottwoods thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Aug 06, 2015

KABuck thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Jul 24, 2012

britprincess1 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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