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Paperback On Writing : A Memoir of the Craft Book

ISBN: 1439156816

ISBN13: 9781439156810

On Writing : A Memoir of the Craft

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Book Overview

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...

Customer Reviews

9 ratings

Fantastic Read for Any Writer

Part autobiography, part writing manual, this novel is a wonderful look into Stephen King's life as well as his writing process. Though I'm a longtime fan of King, I think anyone can enjoy this text whether they read horror or not. The latter half of On Writing deals specifically with King's guidelines for finishing a novel and his suggestions are worthwhile without being prescriptive. King doesn't claim to be the authority on writing with this text, though he certainly could; instead, King provides readers an insight into his writing and how they can begin to engage with their own.

Worth reading for anyone with a hectic childhood..

Gives you something to write about. Esp. thank you for sending me back to "Strunk & White" still looking for my old copy, will find or replace. I could recommend this one to lots of people, but then there would be a lot more people writing, maybe not about mystery, but about their lives. This could even help someone with their "4th step",... just an idea. Thanks again Stephen.

Looking for honest writing advice this is it!

What I love about Stephen is his honesty. He doesn’t sugarcoat how the literary agents are, critics, the process of submission. He tells you to write like yourself and to yourself which I believe is the best advice he can give. No one taught him how to write he just had a thing for reading and shortly after he started to write. He had a lot fun with writing in high school before it got serious for him. Stephen telling you this story gives you hope and makes you have faith in your own writing career. I submitted my work to numerous magazines/journals and they all rejected my work same with Stephen in the beginning of his career so it made me feel normal it made the process of writing feel normal but don’t give up! Someone will read it! Someone will publish it! Keep writing

Helpful without being another dry style guide

Like much of King's writing, this book feels alive with his subjective experience. If you're looking for a portrait of the writer with a few pearls of wisdom and wit, this is the book for you. If you're a King fan and you want a bit of insight into what makes him tick and where he draws inspiration, this a a good pick. If you're looking for practical step-by-step advice on how to become the Next Big Thing, this may not be what you're looking for, but there's still no harm in gleaning what you can from this well-written account of how one of the most successful authors of our time found his voice and made his bones.

Climbing out of a pidgeon-hole.

First of all, I should probably mention that I had never read a Stephen King book in my entire life. I've never had much interest in horror or mystery or suspense. Naturally, I wasn't sure what to expect, and I was a little wary. Another motivation for picking up this book was the fact that I've been writing for the vast majority of my life, and I was curious to see if I was on the right track. I received 'On Writing' for Christmas and read it through a week in January.I was absolutely stunned. Sure, I respected Mr. King as a successful novelist, and knew a little of his personal life; after this book, I felt like I'd known him personally for years. As many others have mentioned, this book is really divided into three parts: a short memoir, a manual of writing technique, and the now well-publicized accident. The first part, "C.V.", was really glimpses into Mr. King's life, interesting little episodes that he considered life lessons or things that sparked his sense of humor. It also provides a very important part of a good writer: He grew up loving to read, and reading frequently. He also started writing and submitting his work at an early age. "C.V." paints the picture of a real-life struggling novelist: how he had to work at several different crummy (though interesting) jobs while supporting a family, a drug habit, and a hefty manuscript.The second part was "On Writing". In this, Mr. King takes almost no credit for what he's saying. He constantly refers back to 'The Elements of Style' by Strunk & White. He also gives you, flat-out but not in a patronizing tone, what you need to succeed as a decent writer. The best way to summarize how I felt about the section as a whole is this: when he revealed that he taught high school English for several years before the success of 'Carrie', I was desperately jealous of those students. He'd teach an *awesome* class.I was most impressed by the last section of the book, where he explores his painful memories of the accident and his slow road to recovery. It literally wrenched my heart when he talked of his wife setting up a table in the stuffy hall that he sat at to write for the first time. It was obvious that writing is more than just a business occupation--it's obvious Mr. King has a true passion for the craft.I applaud him for it--such people come few and far between.Read this book. You won't regret it.

Uncovering the Fossil

For the legions of Stephen King fans out there (which is to say a lot), the first third of the book containing his short memoir is truly a gift. One can't help wanting to read about his/her favorite writer after being transported to fantastic worlds countless times in Mr. King's prolific career. Some fans would have paid... gladly for the first 101 pages of the memoir ("C.V." he calls it), which includes heartfelt tidbits about his brother, mother and his long battles with alcohol and drug addiction.The second part, "On Writing," is where the aspiring novelists will find inspiration. Assuming you're a serious writer (or wanting to be a published one), you'd no doubt would have read the countless manuals on the mechanics of writing. With Mr. King, you do get short lessons in the mechanics of prose here and there. What he mostly offers to the aspiring writer is the inspiration, the cheerleading, and as some have already suggested, after reading it makes you want to sit and write something. He actually allows you into his writing routine, when and where he writes, how many months it takes to write the first draft, and even how he goes about editing the second draft.Some very original thoughts I found quite interesting:1. Story is a fossil you find on the ground, and you gradually dig it out slowly.2. He doesn't plot his stories. He puts "a group of characters in some sort of predicament and then watch them try to work themselves free." In fact he even goes as far as to say, "plot is shift, and best kept under house arrest."3. Write first draft with the "door" closed, and the second draft with it open.There are truly gems here for writers, simple, direct, to the point. As always, he doesn't talk down to you. There is even advice on finding agents.The final section elaborates his near-death experience in summer of 1999, when he was hit by a van driven by Bryan Smith. The book is actually a sandwich: two slices of autobigraphy with the writing advice as the meat of the book.Though the thin volume was not your edge-of-the-seat thriller or horror, I found myself reading the darn thing in one seating. A pretty good deal for a non-fiction book. This may sound funny, too, but I felt like the book became a good friend of mine. In a word, this is book is intimate. As a fan, and perhaps a writer, that might be worth something.

An Amazing Look Into The Mind Of An Amazing Author

Being a huge Stephen King fan I knew that I would enjoy this book. What surprised me was just how good this book was. It provides valuable insight not only into the mind of King but on the writing process itself. You will find yourself inspired to actually sit down at the computer yourself and finally put down those ideas that have been floating around in your head. However, King does make it clear that writing is a serious job and that it is not for anyone. His insight into the business side of the craft will prove to be valuable to any aspiring writer. I always enjoy the "note to the reader" section that King often includes in his novels. On Writing reads like one long "note to the reader" and is often funny and at other times quite touching. King is amazingly honest about his own troubles and faults and the section of the book detailing his accident and road to recovery are inspiring. Most of all the best thing about this book is that King's love of writing, reading and all things about books comes shining through. What an amazing man.

Get out your notebooks, sharpen your pencils...and learn.

Though far from the definitive writer's guideline, this book shines a unique perspective on the craft. Stephen King lays down the law and then teaches it. He shares his techniques, his pet peeves, and his own personal horrific experiences - both as child and adult - and he does it all within the cerebral classroom of the printed page. He wraps a juicy filling of personal tragedy, growth and experience within a tight covering of his famous story telling style. As a human, I was touched by his childhood anecdotes and often laughed with him about his insecurities. I am still in awe at what he has recently had to overcome physically. I mean, damn. As a writer, I am grateful for a brief glimpse into his vocational world. I gained confidence from learning about things I have been doing right and have changed many bad habits (may the adverb rest in peace). I've read several tomes on the subject and believe his reigns as the most complete. I've been a fan of King's since the seventh grade when I was given The Dead Zone and Cujo as an Easter present. A year later I had read every book he'd published (with the exception of the dreaded Limited Editions of which I could opine negatively for hours - suffice it to say that writing should be for everyone to read, not just the rich). I've read or listened to all his books since. I can honestly say, that this is my favorite. Sometimes the coldest hands to wrap around your neck are the true ones. The only bad thing I can say about this book is that it's too short, something one rarely has the opportunity to state regarding the beloved author. A huge thank you to Mr. King for a brief indulgence into the life of a genius.

For writers and readers -- get inside King's mind

The cover shows an inviting scene, a country house with a warm light glowing in the living room window, a set of double doors leading down to the cellar, the house lined with pink and white flowers. "Come on in," the picture seems to say. "I have a story to tell." It generally takes Stephen King about three months to finish the first draft of a book. He began "On Writing" at the end of 1997, but put it aside a few months later, unsure how to finish it. Over a year later, in mid-1999, King decided to spend the summer "finishing the damn writing book." The events of late-June, 1999 interfered with those plans. King spent three weeks in the hospital after he was struck by a van. In late July he decided it was time to start writing again, and it was "On Writing" that he chose for his return to work. The finished product, "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft" will be released by Scribner in early October, 2000. It was a discussion with Amy Tan while on tour with the Rock Bottom Remainders that inspired King to write this book. "No one ever asks about the language," Tan said in response to King's query about the sorts of questions that she doesn't get at author appearances. "Serious" authors get asked that but they don't ask the popular novelists who, he says "care about language in our humble way, and care passionately about the art and craft of telling stories on paper." King opens with a lengthy memoir that "attempted to show some of the incidents and life-situations which made me into the sort of writer I turned out to be." He calls this section "C.V," as in "curriculum vitae," his list of accomplishments and job skills. Some of the story is familiar, though many of the details are new. He works his way through his stages as a writer from childhood to novice to apprentice to worldwide success. For the first time in any detail, King addresses his battle with alcohol and drug abuse, when it started, how it evolved and how he eventually was forced to confront his problem. He reveals that he has little memory of writing "Cujo" ("I wish I could remember enjoying the good parts as I put them down on the page"), that he hadn't realized that when he was writing "The Shining" he was writing about himself, and how Annie Wilkes in "Misery" could well be seen as a symbol for coke and alcohol. "I decided I was tired of being Annie's pet writer," King says. King is more revealing of his life in this book than ever before. He is frank in discussing the merits and deficiencies of many of his books. Of "Rose Madder" and "Insomnia" he says: "These are (much as I hate to admit it) stiff, trying-too-hard novels." He talks about how he reached a point in "The Stand" where he had to set the novel aside for several weeks until he could figure out how to go on. If he had written a couple of hundred pages less at that point he probably would have abandoned the book completely. Also described in some depth are the issues he had to deal w

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