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On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Average Rating 4.5
( 443 )
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Page 1 of 23
  • 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.

    12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2011

    Insanely Inspiring...

    I found this book insanely inspiring. Sometimes vulger, sometimes surprisingly romantic and moving, reading this was like spending an evening with a master storyteller and having him answer all the questions you've always wanted to ask. I loved it.

    7 out of 7 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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  • Posted January 4, 2010

    Not a fan of the Author (until now), but I loved this book and I am now a bit smitten with the Author too.

    I have never read a Stephen King book, nor did I anticipate ever reading one. I am not one who likes to be scared. I have a 50 year habit of sleep walking after scary movies, and I sleep in the nude... but then that is another story....and a little scary in itself.
    Anyway, I was given this book by my sister, who knows that I will only read the truth. No previous use for fiction, or fantasy books here.
    As it turned out, I really did enjoy this book, and I have since referred it to a couple of friends, who are budding authors. I feel that the tips and suggestions were very concise, and I had many "well duh" moments. It seems so easy, and so obvious. And yet, it took the book to make me realize it. Genius!! I would highly recommend this book, to anyone planning to write, or who thought that they knew how to write already. Heck, I may even buy a Stephen King Book of pure fiction soon. Egad!

    6 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 February 12, 2011


    an excellent view inside the mind of successful creative genius. i will never look at adverbs the same.

    3 out of 3 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 December 25, 2012

    Story Contest Guidlines

    1.) You may not have innapropriate language or graphics. 2.) You may not copy or plagerize a story. 3.) You MUST have fun while writing it!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2013

    What a brilliant book by a brilliant man. I love how he discusse

    What a brilliant book by a brilliant man. I love how he discusses how story matters and to forget about plot. I've been writing a novel and have found his advice incredibly inspiring and helpful. I'm a fair writer who hopes to become above average and I think with the help of this book and lot of practice, I can get there. I am so grateful to King for taking the time to write this book. I know it was not that enjoyable to write but WOW, what a difference it's made in my world. It's been better than ANY creative writing course or book coach I could have hired. Kudos to the King! 

    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 September 8, 2012

    A must for writers.

    This is a must read for writers. King's folksy review of his life and how it affected his writing is an easy read. His tidbits of basic writing tips give writers the background as to why writing should follow established guidelines . . . or not. These are tips that will make you view your writing in a new perspective. He is irreverant and totally believable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2012

    ┬┐You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitemen

    “You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or despair ... Come to it any way but lightly.” Stephen King. There is a reason why Stephen King is my favorite writer and it isn’t just because he is an author of mind-twisting tales, but is a teacher through his writing. The book On Writing; A Memoir of the Craft, isn’t a step by step book on how to write a novel, but is inspiriting boost of confidence. He teaches his readers how to be the best writer they can be. This book is set up in sections. Through the first section King shares childhood stories and his path on becoming a published writer. He shares his troubles through his old addictions of alcohol and drugs and finding his wife Tabitha. I have to admit some of these childhood memories did have me laughing out loud. The second section talks about all the tools a writer needs to be successful. He introduces how to be descriptive by giving an example of a table with a red cloth and a bunny cage set on top. He told you his idea of what this set would look like and this made me think because it was NOTHING like the picture in my head. The third section is about king’s “toolbox”. He explained how there are different “shelves” that are important to writing which are vocabulary, grammar, and elements of style. The fourth section is all about the cream inside the Oreo. He describes how to go from the idea in his head to the story on the white piece of paper. The final section was all about editing. The thing I enjoyed about this book is how inspired Stephen King is about writing. He is dedicated and obviously loves what he does. Also, I find it important that an author stays truthful. Stephen didn’t have one issue telling you what is good and what plan out sucks. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Even if you aren’t a serious writer, there are many tips given that even I found helpful.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2012

    The Calling: Angel--Prolouge

    Not many people experience the things I have. I have seen Niagra Falls, I've been to Paris, I've dove three hundred feet below the Pacific Ocean, I have even been to the moon. My name is Angel. Don't ask about a last name. I don't have one. Well, I do, but I am no more attatched to it than I am to the wind. Now, you also might think that I'm a girl because of my name. I'm not. A hundred percent guy. (Tell me how this is going at result two and if I should continue it.) ~MortalInstrumentsGirl

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 22, 2011

    Great Advice!

    I loved this book. It has to be my favourite book of 2010. I have always been a fan of Stephen King and I found, as an aspiring writer, that a book about writing written by someone who knows what they're doing is a great help. I initially had to read this book for my Fiction Writing class, I absolutely fell in love with it from page one and my love for it continued all the way to page 288. There were times when this book made me laugh out loud, embarrassingly on my part, in public places and there were times when I was reading it that I realized some of the mistakes I made as a writer and I learned ways in which I could fix those mistakes without taking away from the idea I want to get across.

    Now, Stephen King is a very blunt man. He is not shy about saying that there is such a thing as a "bad writer." To quote the book, he says:

    ...while it is impossible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer, and while it is equally impossible to make a great writer out of a good one, it is possible, with lots of hard work, dedication, and timely help, to make a good writer out of a merely competent one.

    He gives you the facts, straight from the horse's mouth, if you will, and yet he puts it in a way that not only comforts you, but helps you learn exactly why it is the way it is. He even uses examples from his own writing, whereas a textbook would merely give you examples of someone else's work.

    I would definitely recommend this book to anyone. Anyone at all. Especially those who are looking to become professional writers. On Writing helped me out so much, I don't know where I would be if I hadn't read this book. Probably writing crappy novels that border on fan fiction. Who knows?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2014

    Story entries

    My story is an unbeatable choose your own adventure about dragons. My other entry is at hear set res 1 and my first entry is at zip result one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2014

    My story

    My story is still being written. Go to unwritten result one for the first chapter. Result two is for the second. I am still working on the third chapter.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2014

    Entry (correction)

    A dystopian prolouge at dgi res one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2014

    Story entry

    'Hunted' at lemon res one is a prologue to a story of a crazed woman who cant keep her rage in any longer. She 'hunts' down the 42 children of her enemies swearing revenge....<p>(The prologue is alot better than that example. Thx!)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2014

    Entry: Crumpled Paper (poem)

    I wanted to show you my heart<br>
    so I poured it onto a piece of paper<br>
    but you didn't understand my language<p>

    I wanted to open the door to my soul<br>
    with its sadness and its joy<br>
    but you could not unlock it to see inside<p>

    I tried to sing my song to you<br>
    a song of strength and wisdom<br>
    but you could not hear it<p>

    I sighed and went to pick up<br>
    the crumpled pieces of my heart<br>
    but you picked them up for me<br>
    and smiled.<p>

    Only then could I see your crumpled heart<br>
    unlock the door to your soul<br>
    hear your song<br>
    And let you truly see<br>

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