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On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 253 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 13
  • Posted February 7, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The Only Fictional Literature Book I'll Ever Use

    Stephen King's On Writing is one of the few non-fiction books I've ever enjoyed and I will probably read it again someday for inspiration and the helpful advice it gives. The book starts out as a small memoir of King's childhood, his family life, how he first found his passion for writing, and how he used his talent and determination to get where he is today, as well as meeting his friends and his future wife. The second part of the book is divided up into chapters of how each component of a good fiction book is to be written (plot, characters, word usage, grammar, etc) and it gives the basic dos and don'ts of literature. The final part of the book is the King giving his farewell to his readers and a sneak peek at one of his other novels 1408 as well as a list of books that he liked to read and gave him inspiration. The major themes of the writing are determination, knowing what you're doing, and passion for what it is you want to do, and in this book's case: writing. I liked all the helpful advice King gave and he gave it in such a way that it was easy to understand, and I liked how he wrote the book on a personal level, like he was speaking directly to the readers themselves. I had no major dislikes of the book, only some confusion at certain parts when King was describing the structure of literature. Someone who wishes to one day become a fiction writer, particularly if they wish write the same genre King writes, this is a perfect book to read to help them get started. King gives everything you'll ever need to know about fictional writing, from character development, to grammar corrections, to dealing with writer's block. It is the absolute fiction writer's instruction manual. I would recommend reading his other works, after reading On Writing, to see how he put his own advice to work and what the end result should look like. I personally would recommend The Long Walk or Rose Red. My overall rating on this book is five out of five stars; a hard-working literary master like Stephen King deserves no less. I too wish to be a fictional writer someday, and work in the same genre as King, so this book has been incredibly inspirational to me and has helped me harden my resolve to one day become an author like King himself. This book is one I will treasure for a long time.

    14 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 19, 2010

    So you just write for fun? READ THIS BOOK ANYWAY!

    Just so you know, this book is good for anyone. Anyone who creates or has to press on or has worked crappy jobs wanting to go forward. I gave it a shot and have not put it down.

    I am a writer. Not because I'm published, but because I sit for hours at my computer pounding out words that somewhat convey a cohesive story. Steven King probably didn't publish this book years and years ago for a couple of reasons. Of course, these are just guesses. But probably because he's tired of seeing the stuff this coming generation puts out, and also because we just might not have listened. But after his great success as a writer, he is, no matter what we have to say, a bit of an expert on it. What is great about this book, what is most meaningful is the fact that King has lived the life of an average writer. His folks didn't have tons of money, and he struggled much in the way I, type A commoner, struggles. But along with his self expose, he also teaches and uplifts. His voice jumps off the page and says, "No excuses." As a writer, I think this has been wonderful. Most of us don't have mentors pushing us in one direction or another. And most creative writers that we look up to don't really have the time. King's book took the mind of a mentor and put it into our hands. You don't have to read his type of fiction or even like it to really REALLY grow from this book. Yes, he may reference from some of them, but trust me, it won't be giving you nightmares. It'll be giving you ideas, telling you that it's alright to spend time on your work, and giving you permission to dream in ways that no one has ever told you it was okay. And it's not just for writers; it's for free thinkers.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Still awesome the second time around

    I read this book back in 2001 and I still thing that it's a wonderful book for beginning writers to study. Stephen has dominated the horror genre for quite a long time. In his book he talks about how he got started, his love for writing, and why he continues to do so.

    Reading it again, I still could not put this book down until I had turned the last page. This book still remains one of my "bibles" on the art and craft of writing. Stephen advises the beginning writer to "write every day no matter what."

    His account of the writing craft is both funny, sarcastic, witty and downright truthful. His story of the author who was found sprawled out on his desk in despair because although he wrote only seven words, he did not know in which order they should go, still resonates with me even more now that I am writing my first novel.

    One of the other things Stephen mentioned is the undying love and respect he has for his wife Tabitha is by far a true plus. As writers we yearn to have someone, anyone in our corner. Thank you Stephen for handing me my very own secret weapon to writing. Bravo!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2010


    As I remember the anecdote, when Stephen King was a little kid his grandfather said to his mother, "Why don't you shut that kid up, Ruth. When Steven opens his mouth, all his guts fall out." Well, they still do, and I, for one, am glad they do. I don't think there is anyone writing today who writes more from a place of honesty than Stephen King. Not just in his fiction or in the more informal things he writes, say, to introduce a story, but whenever he puts fingers to keys. On Writing is much more than a "Memoir of the Craft," which it surely is-it is an unequalled reading experience, period. I realized earlier today that this may well be my favorite book of all time, which is saying something. The thought crept up on me by surprise when it occurred to me I have bought four copies of On Writing over the years. Every time I finish reading it, I want to turn it over and read it again. Every time. No matter what King writes, he makes you feel he is sitting next to you, telling you what's on his mind, but no book does this more than this one. His words on the craft of writing are jewels, plain and simple, but it's the feeling that someone understands and is making the journey with you that matters.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2009

    If you are a writer and this doesn't motivate you, it's time to find a new pursuit.

    For decades, Stephen King has delighted reading audiences with his shocking tales, powerful prose and frighteningly realistic characters. In the late 90s, King sat down to pen a book on how he became the writers that his is, the lessons he learned and how others can become better writers. After several long years - and a near-fatal encounter with a van - King completed On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

    I'm going to just come out and say it - if you are a writer, you must read this. It is both inspirational and educational. It is typical Stephen King bluntness as well and really cuts to the heart of what it takes to be a writer and why you shouldn't fear writing what you believe in no matter what other people think about it. Successful writers are successful because they are passionate about what they write - not because they are trying to make a buck. This is not a point-by-point how-to book on writing novels. There are plenty of those out there and most of them will bore you to tears. What King offers is a look inside his writing methods and some hard-won insight into what works and what doesn't in the publishing world. It is divided into several sections. The first gives a history of his writing career that is so funny I was laughing out loud more times than I can count. It is also includes a painful account of the drug and alcohol addiction that nearly killed him and the loving intervention of his wife, Tabitha. He then goes into the tools that a writer needs to develop to do the things that a writer needs to do. The third section is really the meat of the text and shows the methods that King uses to develop a story from idea to finished manuscript. The final section is a very personal account of the horrific accident that nearly ended his life and how the lifelong devotion of his wife Tabitha and his writing - specifically finishing this memoir - contributed to his return to life. On Writing is as much a deeply personal memoir as it is a dialog on getting the most out of your writing. It is a book that I will read again and again as inspiration for my own writing. I recommend it to everybody, but most especially to every aspiring writer. If this story doesn't send you to your keyboard with renewed motivation, you probably want to find a new pursuit.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2015

    Stephen King's memoir is fascinating, helpful, and enjoyable. Fr

    Stephen King's memoir is fascinating, helpful, and enjoyable. From reading his fictional stories to picking up this memoir I've loved every second. This book isn't only helpful and inspiring to writers and readers, but it is also filled with humorous stories and great advice. Some points are filled with humor, sarcasm, and everything is filled with truth. I did not want to put it down. He begins the memoir with memories of his childhood. They mostly consist of amusing stories and some insight on his earliest interest in writing. Moving forward It teaches you what you basically need to know about writing, but in a way that let's you actually understand better ways to write. His advice seems more personal and helpful since he goes over examples in the text. The ideas and teachings flow seamlessly throughout the book. Even though, it was a "How To" book, I thoroughly enjoyed every page. I picked it up hoping I would enjoy it a little bit, but here I am raving about it now. Stephen King's memoir is truly spectacular.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2012

    A Great Novel

    In this non-fiction novel Stephen King reflects on the memories of his childhood and his years in school, talking about how he progressed as a writer and how he first overcame rejection and all the struggles that followed to become the author he is today. He also has a section about what to do and what not to do to become a better writer. I thought the novel was great and always kept my interest. His sarcastic perspective on various things made me feel like I wasn’t just simply reading a novel that was required for school. It made me actually want to read it. We all know how frustrating it is to be required to read a novel that doesn’t really keep your interest. I didn’t feel that way with this novel and King makes his writing clear and enjoyable. During the On Writing section of the novel he includes some examples of what one shouldn’t do when writing and some of his own examples of how he writes followed by an explanation of what should be done when writing. He even gives his own reviews about certain books and authors he respects. At the end he gives the reader a booklist of novels he recommends which include some well known titles such as J.K. Rowling. I definitely recommend On Writing for all Stephen King fans and others looking for a good non-fiction novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 10, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    When growing up he shared many accounts that give thoughtfu

    When growing up he shared many accounts that give thoughtful insight into age groups. These everyday life events could possibly be understood by any number of families. More recently within his immediate family circle there are encouraging life successes also. These successes build a progressive direction in writing while enjoying family life.
    Importantly he listens to others applying this to dialogue and character building in fiction. Fictional characters are not drawn directly from real life. His instruction is well explained for good storytelling, covering skills for the aspects of writing.
    Many examples with further reading are given in his outstanding book. I learned enlightening connections in this well written book and highly recommend it.

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  • Posted June 21, 2013

    Not what I expected

    It is amusing, but I had hoped it would be more of a practicum on writing, a "how to", specifically. I'm about a third of the way through, and haven't gotten it yet. I don't think I would have bought it had I known that.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2013

    Very honest and interesting read. Writers reading this may want

    Very honest and interesting read. Writers reading this may want to purchase a copy of the classic "Elements of Style" in advance. I would warn any readers who are very commited and serious readers to bring a notebook and pen, Mr. King drops author names and book titles everywhere!

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  • Posted March 31, 2012

    Writing 101

    For once, a book on writing that tells you how to do it, and not in terms of stringing letters and words together. If you write, this book will let you know that you aren't alone in your choice of methods, there are lots of writers in the same boat you are, and it will point a way through for you.

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  • Posted December 9, 2010

    HIGHLY Recommend!!

    Coming in to my freshman year of college,I had literally not read a book by myself since the 8th grade. Yes, I know this is bad but none of the assigned books had really caught my attention. As soon as I started reading Stephen King's on writing I was hooked and had to keep reading each anecdote. The "C.V." section of the book was the best part of the book for me because it was funny and it related to my life. Even though the "Toolbox" and " On Writing" I also learned some helpful tips to help me in my own writing. I have already recommended this book to many family members and would also to so to any prospective readers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A review of the craft

    On Writing: A review of the craft
    September 11 2010

    The autobiography On Writing by Stephen King is a enriched read containing parts of King's life and his hints on writing well. King kicks his story off with pieces of his childhood and family life. Along with just telling the story he incorporates his early life in writing. He then gives the reader his own tips on how to write well. These include what you need to know, what should not be used in writing, and goals you should set for yourself. He also includes a brief section on publishing and obtaining an agent. King then ends his book with the most recent event of what he learned after his almost fatal car accident.

    Some major themes in On Writing include: Ethos, expressing the positive of situations, how events were depicted by writing or related to writing, and even King's dislikes in the way people write. King relates a lot of his life to writing, even his early life. These relations only further King's ethos and gets a hold of your attention. King also uses humor in his book. A lot of his personality shines through even in the section on how to write. He describes his own feelings toward writing, but it is not over done; you still are able to form your own opinions on what good writing may be. The Postscript of On Writing is especially intriguing. Through King's difficulty with his injuries he still pulls through and finishes his book. This grabs your attention even more so, while putting you on a more personal level with the author. You can see the effort that is also put into these books. King also shows you his realization with his own situations. He shows you he can understand himself while trying to tell you how to write well.

    Some things King did not do so well, his incisive attention to detail. Detail is good in many cases and even King encourages it, but in On Writing he may over do it. In some sections of the book a story will be told and at the end of the section you think, why is this important to the story? What was King actually trying to say? There is a faint disconnection with the reader and the author.

    Overall, On Writing was an excellent read. King once again captures the mind, even in a fiction novel. As with other King book's, you do not want to put it down. It seems Kings own life has a plot line of its own. Other novels I would recommend by King are: The Stand, The Green Mile, and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. The overall rating of On Writing is four stars. King once again out does himself in the storytelling of his novel's. I look forward to reading more King books in the future, fiction and non-fiction alike.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2010


    This a great book, both for writers aspiring to be published, and for those who just wish to write for themselves. I loved everything about it.

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  • Posted March 14, 2010

    An incredible guide for aspiring writers and/or Stephen King fans

    Written in a conversational tone, easy-to-read, not dry or boring despite giving tons of good information. LOVED IT!!!

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  • Posted March 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Must Read for Authors

    This invaluable little novel gives everyone who is serious about the craft of writing an in-depth guide to better your art. Buy it! It will be money well spent.

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  • Posted January 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Whether you are a writer or not this book is for any audience.

    To be honest I never read a single piece of King's prior to this. I've seen films based on his books but never read any of his previous works. I had wanted to read his material for quite a long time and I wasn't disappointed when reading this. King has a very honest and concise writing style. One that continues to enthrall any reader who gives this piece of writing a chance. Starting with his curriculum vitae outlining how he became a writer and followed by a conversational on writing area, King demonstrates why he is such a popular writer. I enjoyed the honesty he demonstrated in his lines and it gave me inspiration to put more effort towards writing as a hobby. Whether you are a King fan or not you can safely purchase this book at its very affordable price and enjoy it. The one downside to the book is perhaps its brevity.

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  • Posted October 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Reads: Oh My God.

    The pure fact the Stephen King is trying to give young writers a good structure for writing, when his work is horrid. His writing sense is, in my own opinion, pathetic and unnerving. His written word is like that of a dead end street:filled with empty houses, bare trees, and resentment. The pure thought of learning how to create a plot, climax, and an end to a story by the likes of Sir King, is revolting.
    *Sorry to those King fans, not all of his work is bad, just most of it.

    0 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2009

    Reading On Writing

    Review is from my blog

    Recently finished Stephen King's On Writing..fantastic! In his usual way, King captures your attention from page one, line one. This is like no other book on writing I have read, freshly presented and reads like a story. Which in many ways, it is. The first part of the book focuses on King's life to date, which I found fascinating. I've always been a fan of his work, ever since I would sneak his books out of my Dad's 'locked' briefcase. My Dad hated that.but not because I was reading stuff that would scare the crud out of me. My Dad was a s-l-o-w reader and hated the thought of someone else reading his book before he was done. Well, I had little patience for that! How can anyone wait weeks, months (I did mention he was a slow reader, right?) to get her eager little paws on the newest Stephen King Scriller (thriller with maximum scare)?? Yep, I invented that wordfolks. You read it here first. Scriller. Sorry, back to King's book. Learning more about his upbringing and adventures was great. Helps you get a glimpse of when and maybe how his creative juices started to flow.

    Second part of the book - thoughts on writing. Not a strict how-to guide by any means, which is great. There are enough superb books that walk you through dialogue, plot, scene formation.this book simply tells you how to write. Meaning, some ways that have worked for Mr. King. And really, if it works for Stephen King - why wouldn't you try it?

    I tried one suggestion right away. Instead of a five day write week, I moved to a six day write week. He writes every day, every day. He gives beginning writers some wiggle room - you can take a day off if need be. Moving to six days really kept me more focused. I didn't have to spend the first day or two (after my usual two day break) to get back into character(s). My day "off" - maybe not writing scenes, but certainly still thinking about and jotting notes on the story.

    Moral of this post - you may want to pick up King's book. Nothing too scary in this one, so you won't lose sleep. But you will gain insight. And that's never a bad thing.

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  • Posted July 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    On Writing

    I have not enjoyed a book as much in years. Stephen King is one of those authors after hearing about his life you question how he survived to be with us today. My favorite part of the book is his comparison of a man on the roof of a burning house to one of his life choices. I still laugh when I picture that analogy. Although, you can learn from this publication, the pleasure you derive from reading this book should be the primary reason for purchasing it. Buy, read, learn, and enjoy.

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