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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow
I don't read Stephen King's books - sorry, but horror just isn't my cup of tea. Yet when I read his articles on other things, I never fail to be impressed by his clear and discerning vision.
In short, don't let King's usual subject matter keep you from this amazing read. This is writing from the inside, a very honest and personal look. It doesn't really matter if...
Published on Oct. 18 2009 by A. Ashby

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Autobiography, Poor Book on the Craft
I was very excited to get this book and learn the techniques and wisdoms of the craft from such an experienced master. I laughed and cried at his personal life stories. Few books have made be do that. But a master-class on writing this book is not, as it is ill defined in the description on the back cover. His advise to the writer was limited to write every day, don't...
Published on Aug. 29 2001


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, Oct. 18 2009
By 
A. Ashby "Frostback" (Surrey, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: On Writing (Mass Market Paperback)
I don't read Stephen King's books - sorry, but horror just isn't my cup of tea. Yet when I read his articles on other things, I never fail to be impressed by his clear and discerning vision.
In short, don't let King's usual subject matter keep you from this amazing read. This is writing from the inside, a very honest and personal look. It doesn't really matter if you have a writing career, if you want one, or if you just want to understand what makes a writer tick. You'll find yourself stopping every few pages at a new discovery. It'll be something you've already felt, but never mentioned to anyone. You'll laugh in recognition, before eagerly pressing on.
This is a book you'll want to read again and again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining autobiography with some writing advice, Sept. 2 2010
By 
Sam (British Columbia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: On Writing (Mass Market Paperback)
On Writing by Stephen King is an interesting autobiography that showed how the famous author got started writing. I feel like I know so much more about Stephen King and that writing takes a lot of practice to get it right. This book certainly gave me the motivation I needed to get started and practice writing.

It was a passion from his childhood, which was when he started writing stories. Like all beginning writers, he first copied his ideas from works he enjoyed, then later on formed his own stories.

The writing section in this book was extremely helpful as well, giving bits of advice that other writing books may not include.

Some advice includes:

- Writing a lot and reading a lot are a must for writers.
- Find a place that you will be able to concentrate on your writing, preferably a place with few distractions.
- Try to get the same number of pages or words competed per day and you may need a set time. Start off with a fewer number of pages so you do not become discouraged.
- Don't open your room door until you have completed your work.
- Don't tell people what you are working on and try to complete the novel as soon as possible or work on it daily so it stays fresh in your mind.
- Try to read everywhere you can, for example long line ups, the park, the waiting room.
- Novels consist of three parts: narration (situation comes before the characters prior to narrating), description, and dialogue. Plots are not important since life is plotless, and because spontaneity cannot be created with the use of plots.
- Whole novels can start from what if questions.
- Don't over-describe or under-describe. Try to think of the few things that you remember about a particular place, and don't include unnecessary things unless they relate to the story.
- The dialogue should be realistic. Do not try to censor what you are saying because of what you think another person might think.
- Try to pay attention to the way real people behave and talk to help with your characters.
- Don't use unnecessary adverbs. A reader should be able to tell how the character is feeling without having to write it. The use of "he/she said" is the best of all.
- Not every novel has a theme.
- Try to cut down about 10% for your second draft.
- Not every best-seller is fast-paced.
- Research is a sort of back story; readers don't want to know too much information about it.
- Writing classes are not recommended, because they make you wonder if what you are writing is trying to symbolize something and slow down the speed of completing your novel.
- When searching for publishers, getting a copy of Writer's Market or Literary Market Place is a good idea. I aware of false agents trying to get your money.

4.5/5
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Autobiography, Poor Book on the Craft, Aug. 29 2001
By A Customer
I was very excited to get this book and learn the techniques and wisdoms of the craft from such an experienced master. I laughed and cried at his personal life stories. Few books have made be do that. But a master-class on writing this book is not, as it is ill defined in the description on the back cover. His advise to the writer was limited to write every day, don't create an outline, and read, read, read. There were some editing examples included, but not enough to understand the editing techniques a writer of fiction must have to be successful. Described as part autobiography and part master-class on writing, the fact is, 90% is autobiography, 2% useful master-class, and 8% other.
As in autobiography, I'd give it 10 stars!!! As a book on writing, sadly, only one star. There are much better and more detail manuscripts out there that serve this purpose much, much better. The marketing strategy is misleading and does little service to such a profound, prolific, and important writer of modern fiction. I still love King, and I loved reading about his life story -- the price of the book is well worth that! But if you are an aspiring writer, read it to understand the man, not to learn about writing.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading, April 19 2011
By 
IDGS (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: On Writing (Mass Market Paperback)
To start, I'm an author. I need to preface this review with that fact, as I don't know how engaging this may have been, had I not had such an investment in the topic myself.

That being said, anyone with absolutely any interest in the craft of writing can surely benefit from the wisdom between these pages. Much less a 'how to write' book and so much more, as it says, 'a memoir of the craft,' King comes off as nuturing rather than preachy, and entertaining rather than dry.

His advice is sound. Think of the last book you read that left you feeling a little less than satisfied. After reading On Writing, I promise you can pick out exactly what made that book lackluster, as King is a master of analyzing not only the faults of others, but his own as well.

A window into King's otherwise fairly unobserved writing life, I highly reccomend this to any writers, King fans, or anyone just looking for a good non-fiction read.

Overall, 5/5.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful, Insightful and Well-Written, Jan. 31 2010
By 
Emily Mackinnon (Halifax, NS, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Stephen King's memoir/guide to writing is absolutely inspiring. I had never read anything by Stephen King before, but a professor recommended this book for aspiring writers. The first half of the book is a mini autobiography, but with its centre around how King came to be a published author. He talks about his beginnings as an impovrished(ish) teacher/writer to becoming world-class and highly acclaimed. My favourite parts were when he talked about his "muse" and how you had to go to the muse and do all the legwork, but it was worth it because "he has the magic." At times funny, at times heartbreaking, and always informative, this is a great read for anyone wishing to know the basics of the craft.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If Stephen King Could Teach..., June 21 2001
By 
Craig L. Howe (Darien, CT United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (Hardcover)
This is the first book by Stephen King I have read and I have to admit I am disappointed.
On Writing is written as two books: an autobiography and a writing primer. The autobiographical information was interesting and helped explain the latter. On the writing side, I came away felling I might have been better off if I had read The Elements of Style, King's favorite Style book.
His sections on description, dialogue, narration and editing earned the book my three star rating. The examples cited and King's commentaries were great.
I guess I expected more from such a prolific writer. The book's fault probably lies more in my expectations, than King's ability to communicate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Funny in the beginning,preachy in middle and boring last, May 30 2001
By A Customer
King was at his funniest in the beginning when he mentioned yarking as he put it when he ate too many fried eggs as a kid I did feel extremely angry that he was one of those kids that tormented kids like Sandra and others that resembled Carrie White I can understand her and pity her,but I don't find her unlikable. Shame on you Steve. As for his addictions to alchol and drugs,I don't see how his wife put up with him for so long. I would have kicked this lazy,overbearing control freak out on his butt the first thing. Woman must be a saint to put up with that crap.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book Review: Stephen King � On Writing, July 3 2004
By 
This review is from: On Writing (Mass Market Paperback)
Book Review: Stephen King - On Writing
I enjoyed the first half of the book for the humorous lighthearted approaches Steve takes to his life. One inspiring moment would not leave my mind. I wish that I had one in my own life as significant. As a young boy Steve copied the works of his favorite comic and showed the result to his mother. "Write one of your own, Stevie," she said. WOW! Obviously the seed of a writer was already planted but what fertilizer was that moment in Stephen King's life. Permission to write came at a very significant age. So many writers struggle to give themselves permission to write. A comment like this reminds me how influential a parent is to their child. Imagine what may have become of Steve had his mother been a different woman.
Other enjoyable moments involved poison ivy, a rather naughty school distribution and Steve's bleak telling of his drug and alcohol abuse. With the latter I sat wondering at Stephen's courage. Not just to relate these facts openly and honestly to his readers, but also to step beyond his dependency and hope, perhaps pray, that his writing did not come from the altered state. Some of his readers would see Steve in a darker light when realizing he is a former addict. I know that my image of Stephen changed. I saw in him honor, courage and a great strength to overcome. I admire him for stepping through the fear I can only imagine he must have felt and coming past it into real living. May we all learn from his experience.
When I reached the middle of Stephen King's "On Writing: A Memoir", I could not help but notice the very distinct change of voice between the first section and the second. I wondered how the light hearted man, who wrote about living life even through some very hard moments, could possibly be the same man who wrote in stilted lament. I read feeling rather resentful of the attitude I felt coming from the pages. I wondered how he dared imply that the way he did things was the only way to do them. I was particularly flummoxed at the parts where Steve speaks of plot and how no writer should ever use plot, story is the key element. I agree, story is key, but my current novel is laid out perfectly on a large board with every little plot nuance decided. Of course since I am suffering a serious writer's block with that novel perhaps Steve has merit when he speaks of plotting and the damage it can do to story.
Beyond that single disagreement I found Steve spoke to the readers of "On Writing" with integral truth. He spoke fact, but somehow in the second half of the book there seemed a lot less joy. It is only when I reached the postscript I realized why the two halves of one book seemed so different. You may notice the significance of change yourself when you read this book and you will find as I did that there is an rather extreme reasoning for it. Right where the voice changed is the eighteen months where Steve had been recuperating after being hit by a Dodge van. This life-changing event very obviously changed his sense of self and ultimately his voice, his writing.
The second half of the book involves a lot of helpful advice, but personally I felt that a writer would find the first half much more inspiring. The second half answers questions you might have, but the answers are only helpful if you write in the same way Steve writes. Every writer does things their own way and while you can take his words and mince them in your own mind and heart into something of your own, if you attempt to copy his routine exactly you will loose your self. He admits this also and I thank him for once again being so honest. The second half of the book offers a great deal to aspiring writers but I feel the first half offered twice that again.
Overall this book is a wonderful read for all writers and entertaining for non-writers. I freely admit that I have never read another of Stephen King's books but having read this one I am itching to read some of his fiction. He has a fluid hand that is a delight to read. I did find the profanity scattered across the book grating, but he has a section where he speaks of that also. It says a lot about who Stephen is and how he was raised. The entire book opens him up for readers to really know him, and that is a true connection of minds that shouts the truth he shares of writer's telepathy.
Despite all he has suffered in life Stephen comes out a stronger man. In "On Writing" he offers aspiring writers a wealth of advice the most significant being, "Read a lot, Write a lot." You can only learn your subject by immersing yourself in it and as with all artistic desire to reach perfection the Carnegie hall anecdote comes to mine, "Practice, practice, practice". Thank you, Stephen King, for sharing yourself with me. I am a better person and hopefully a better writer because of your candor.
Rebecca Laffar-Smith
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Geat book, but no need to buy this new one., Feb. 2 2012
By 
Jeremy E. Sale (T.O.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
There's no point in explaining how terrific this book is. Other reviews have already covered it. Still... don't waste extra money on the newest edition. Nothing of consequence has been added. Thus 4 stars.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Real Life Stories of Wordsmithing For Enthusiasts and Fans Alike, April 17 2009
By 
Lee McIlmoyle (Hamilton, ON, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: On Writing (Mass Market Paperback)
Let me start by saying I greatly enjoyed, and learned a great deal from this book. You could do far worse than to pick this book up if you have any interest whatsoever in understanding how writers work.

I've had something of a love-hate relationship with Stephen King's writing, although I think hate is perhaps too strong a word. More like ambivalence. My mother was a die hard fan of his work for a great many years while I was growing up, but I myself have found many of his more popular titles (not all of them; I loved The Stand and I've read several of his other books) not to my taste at all. I'm not really a fan of horror writing, but I do love when his writing veers into speculative fiction and almost fantasy. I particularly love when he builds big stories from very small events experienced by rather real people. I also like when he steps outside of his usual fare (Cujo, Carrie, Christine, that sort of thing) and gives us Delores Claiborne, The Green Mile and Stand By Me (The Body).

I've been an aspiring author for most of my life, but I only really started to make it a discipline in the last handful of years, as it finally occurred to me that I have a lot of rough spots in my work, and I finally decided I like my prose again. So hunting around for books to teach myself with has been something of a challenge. I'm pretty selective about what I read these days, which runs counter to some of what King has to say in his book here, but I find reading numerous texts on how to write loses me. I simply can't allow myself to get that anal about the process, even though the process fascinates me.

What I learned from reading this book is that the process is sacred, and that you really have to be careful about how you go about creating and sharing your work. I may never be as prolific a writer as Stephen King, but I do consider him an influence, and it was interesting to see that we have somewhat similar approaches to writing, as I too like to make a made dash through the first draft. I think I may take a stab at keeping the door closed, as he advises, in the future, and keep my neediness under control.

Over all, if you have any interest in the craft or writing, you don't have to read every book on writing available: You can start here. There are other books I'd also recommend, but I think some of the most important lessons just on the act of writing itself are spelled out plainly and very interestingly in this book. A very insightful book, autobiographical pieces and all.
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On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King (Hardcover - Oct. 3 2000)
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