Twentieth Anniversary Edition with Contributions from Joe Hill and Owen King
ONE OF TIME MAGAZINE’S TOP 100 NONFICTION BOOKS OF ALL TIME
Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King’s critically lauded, million-copy bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work.
“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 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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Published after he nearly died in a terrifying car accident, Stephen King’s 2000 book provides great insight about how the author came to see the world as such a frightening place. He recounts a fatherless and impoverished childhood, during which he worked double shifts at a weaving mill, and reveals a lot about his battles with addiction later on in life. It’s inspiring to read about how he made it through his struggles to become one of the world’s most popular and prolific writers—and even more inspiring to read King’s advice for anyone who wants to try their hand at writing. Lessons include several reading lists of books he admires, a marked-up manuscript that lets you see his thought process in action, and a list of King’s pet peeves (e.g., knock it off with the adverbs!). The final chapter of On Writing, which describes his physically and psychologically devastating accident, is in itself a master class. This is King at his very best: visceral, serious, and very, very funny.
"No one ever asks about the language," Amy Tan once opined to King. Here's the uber-popular novelist's response to that unasked question a three-part book whose parts don't hang together much better than those of the Frankenstein monster, but which, like the monster, exerts a potent fascination and embodies important lessons and truths. The book divides into memoir, writing class, memoir. Many readers will turn immediately to the final part, which deals with King's accident last year and its aftermath. This material is tightly controlled, as good and as true as anything King has written, an astonishing blend of anger, awe and black humor. Of Bryan Smith (who drove the van that crushed King) watching the horribly wounded writer, King writes, "Like his face, his voice is cheery, only mildly interested. He could be watching all this on TV...." King's fight for life, and then for the writing life, rivets attention and inflames admiration as does the love he expresses throughout for his wife, novelist Tabitha. The earlier section of memoir, which covers in episodic fashion the formation of King the Writer, is equally absorbing. Of particular note are a youthful encounter with a babysitter that armchair psychologists will seize upon to explain King's penchant for horror, and King's experiences as a sports reporter for the Lisbon, Maine, Weekly Express, where he learned and here passes on critical advice about writing tight. King's writing class 101, which occupies the chewy center of the book, provides valuable advice to novice scribesDalthough other than King's voice, idiosyncratic and flush with authority, much of what's here can be found in scores of other writing manuals. What's notable is what isn't here: King's express aim is to avoid "bullshit," and he manages to pare what the aspiring writer needs to know from idea to execution to sale to a few simple considerations and rules. For illustration, he draws upon his own work and that of others to show what's good prose and what's not, naming names (good dialogue: Elmore Leonard; bad dialogue: John Katzenbach). He offers some exercises as well. The real importance of this congenial, ramshackle book, however, lies neither in its autobiography nor in its pedagogy, but in its triumphant vindication of the popular writer, including the genre author, as a writer. King refuses to draw, and makes a strong case for the abolition of, the usual critical lines between Carver and Chandler, Greene and Grisham, DeLillo and Dickens. Given the intelligence and common sense of his approach, perhaps his books' many readers will join him in that refusal. 500,000 first printing.
Excellent book for any author looking to get started writing... and stay writing.
At first I was like, is this a memoir or an instruction, a little of both and very well done!
Starts with an autobiography with little tidbits. Towards the middle of the book is where “real” writing instruction happens, which is very generous to begin with. Best advice he’s given is to simply read a lot and write a lot.