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Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

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The Bottom Line

Stephen King's On Writing provides insight into how a writer is formed and how one persists over time. King's ideas on craft and technique are astute and down-to-earth.
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Pros

  • Stephen King's approach to writing is down-to-earth and often funny.
  • Highly readable with much useful advice on writing.
  • King is passionate both about writing and about conveying what he has learned about it.

Cons

  • There are better-written books on writing, but his insights are always worth reading.

Description

  • One of the best, and most well-known, books on writing in recent years.
  • Insightful and down-to-earth.
  • Worthwhile for both beginning and professional writers.

Guide Review - Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Though Stephen King may not be the all-time best writer out there, he is certainly one of the most prolific, and for that alone, this book warrants attention. The first section of the book is exactly what the subtitle leads one to expect: a memoir of one writer's life, from childhood experiences that shaped him as a writer to the experiences that hindered him in adulthood, in particular King's struggle with alcoholism.

Though King credits his prolificness to good health and a stable relationship, I imagine that his down-to-earth approach to writing also helps. This healthy attitude toward craft comes through in the second section of the book, which includes advice on everything from grammar to choosing an agent. My favorite bit of advice, and somewhat surprising considering his prodigious output, was, "Put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around." The toolbox metaphor that pervades this section further speaks to his humble approach to his calling.

It's obvious from reading On Writing that King loves to write and feels lucky to have done it for a living all of these years. This joyful approach to writing, and his real insights into craft more than make up for a sometimes-clunky writing style.

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