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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Near Perfect Complement to On Writing
Someone once said, I think it was in fact King himself, with his sense of irony polished that he could write a grocery list and it would be a bestseller. The fact of the matter is King's writing is honest as Straub says in an elegant introduction, which is what inspires legions of fans to want to read everything available that he has written be it fiction or...
Published on July 5, 2005 by paul mason

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars New Stuff and Old Stuff
If you enjoyed King’s "On Writing," you will like this as well. Some of the articles are redundant, simply because King tells the same stories repeatedly, but that is what readers want. There are many more stories though that continue to motivate and teach the aspiring writer. If you want to read 160 pages of King’s thoughts on horror fiction, prior to...
Published 16 months ago by Darren Sapp


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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Near Perfect Complement to On Writing, July 5, 2005
This review is from: Secret Windows: Essays and Fiction on the Craft of Writing (Hardcover)
Someone once said, I think it was in fact King himself, with his sense of irony polished that he could write a grocery list and it would be a bestseller. The fact of the matter is King's writing is honest as Straub says in an elegant introduction, which is what inspires legions of fans to want to read everything available that he has written be it fiction or non-fiction.

SECRET WINDOWS is set up as a book of the month club companion piece to King's bestselling memoir/how-to guide ON WRITING. Apart from a very heartfelt ode in the introduction by King's fellow master of horror and collaborator Straub it contains various essays and short works of fiction dedicated to the art of writing. The dates of the pieces in the collection range from when Stephen was a wee lad of 12 writing for his brother's paper to the time of publication. There are some well known pieces, such as short stories that have later been published in his Everything's Eventual anthology, and an excerpt from his other well-known non-fiction piece Danse Macabre to some real hidden gems that have never been published before. One of these gems is a short talk/essay on banned books. Another is great opening lines that are favourite of King's.

In Secret Windows, just like in his fiction King's integrity shines through; he claims not to be the best novelist around even if he sells better than some but always promises to deliver the best story he knows how to write. His humour is evident in these pages even when it is self-deprecating and as a reader his same conversational tone that soaks his other works is present here as well. Danse Macabre was not the perfect book, On Writing is not the perfect book and no even Secret Windows is not the perfect book but it is darn close especially when read in conjunction with On Writing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mostly Unknown Stephen King Non-Fiction Collection, May 28, 2011
By 
J. Hill (South Charleston, WV) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Secret Windows: Essays and Fiction on the Craft of Writing (Hardcover)
Secret Windows is a companion book to On Writing released by Book-of-the-Month Club, a 430-page collection of all sorts of Stephen King items, from essays, to interviews, to anthology introductions, and even including a previously unpublished short story. An important fact to know before purchasing is that over half of the material in the book can be found in other works dedicated King fans will already have on their shelves. It has about 200 pages of tough-to-find or unpublished work, and the rest comes from Danse Macabre, Night Shift, and Everything's Eventual. Danse Macabre, in fact, is featured with a 160-page "excerpt" (now that's stretching the term to its limits), but the interesting quality here is in how these pieces are presented. Reading them in a collection ties them together thematically and provides an overall view of King's conscious approach, as well as the subconscious underpinnings, to his writing. I'd be hard-pressed to find a reason why people who enjoyed On Writing wouldn't also be impressed with Secret Windows.

Highlights for me include the stories King wrote for his brother's newspaper, Dave's Rag, in 1959-60, complete with a copy of the original December 29, 1959 edition's cover page; the "Ten Bears" article from Writer's Digest, 1973, explaining some of the basics of horror writing; the brief "How IT Happened," from '86 describing what inspired King to write It; and an excellent lecture on book-banning to the Virginia Beach Public Library in 1986, among others. This is a unique collection that I think a majority of King fans would appreciate if they knew about it. It's too bad it wasn't published for mass market.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Theory and Practice (Practice), December 1, 2013
This review is from: Secret Windows: Essays and Fiction on the Craft of Writing (Hardcover)
Stephen King, On Writing/Secret Windows (Scribner's,
2000 and BOMC, 2000)
[originally posted 6Nov2000]

"Most of the things you find in books on writing are bull[censored for Amazon consumption]." How can you not like a book on writing that begins so endearingly? Shortly after, King makes a promise to keep the book as short as possible, and for King, he does an admirable job (it weighs in under 300 pages, a short story for this guy). Capitalizing on the publication of On Writing, Book of the Month Club (who are the behind-the-scenes orchestrators of the Stephen King Book Club) contracted with the man to release a companion volume to it called Secret Windows as well.

Much of what King writes in On Writing is simple common sense ("the adverb is not your friend..."), but some of it flies in the face of conventional wisdom. King is a situational writer as opposed to a plotter, and the vast majority of "how to write your novel in <x> days"-style writers' manuals are written by plotters. This alone makes the book valuable to the struggling author; when everyone's told you one thing, and it doesn't work for you, hearing someone validate another way to do things is sometimes the most important thing that can happen to you. And King delivers his advice in simple, straightforward prose, providing examples when necessary (at the very end, he gives us the opening paragraphs of Blood and Smoke's "1408," both in rough and finished drafts, and it's probably the best example of revision I've seen in a how-to-write book). Good, solid stuff, probably the best I've read in recent years, since Natalie Goldberg's first two books.

But even that isn't what makes this book shine. We're all aware that much of what separates great writers from run-of-the-mill hacks is the ability to take one's own events and make mincemeat of them on the page. The first hundred pages of this volume are an encapsulated autobiography of King. It's impressionist, deadpan, as minimal as it can be to give us an idea of where all these books came from (no, he doesn't really get his ideas in Utica). And while all of King's writing is marked with a particular kind of honesty that resonates with the average reader, these hundred pages stand out. If it's possible to be more than completely honest, he's done it.

Secret Windows is a compilation. Most of it's been previously published. There are a few things here that bear re-reading, a few unpublished (and perhaps should have remained that way, such as the early stuff from his brother's homemade newspaper), and one of King's early attempts at a one-voice tale, a style he mastered in Dolores Claiborne, called "The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet." I can't remember whether this made it into Nightmares and Dreamscapes or not (can't find a full listing of N&D's contents online) [ed. note 2013: no], but if not, this story alone, about an editor's slow descent into alcoholic madness, with its catalyst a story by an already-insane writer, is worth the price of admission. It is not an easily-forgotten piece of work.

Taken together, the two make a good pair: a book on how to write and a collection of fiction, nonfiction, and interviews dealing with the craft of writing. The average non-writing Stephen King fan may be left cold, but for the writer (or the writer wannabe who's never attempted; if you liked Misery better than most King novels, you qualify), they're gold nuggets in the river.

On Writing: ****
Secret Windows: *** ˝
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars New Stuff and Old Stuff, February 17, 2013
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This review is from: Secret Windows: Essays and Fiction on the Craft of Writing (Hardcover)
If you enjoyed King’s "On Writing," you will like this as well. Some of the articles are redundant, simply because King tells the same stories repeatedly, but that is what readers want. There are many more stories though that continue to motivate and teach the aspiring writer. If you want to read 160 pages of King’s thoughts on horror fiction, prior to 1981, you don’t need to buy "Danse Macabre;" it’s here. I enjoyed several of the interviews and short stories not found elsewhere. Although most of these articles are published in other works, this serves its purpose, to put everything in one volume.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Am loving this book, October 1, 2009
By 
Anonymous (Virginia USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Secret Windows: Essays and Fiction on the Craft of Writing (Hardcover)
First I read "On Writing" and loved it, and so decided to read this book too, and I'm really enjoying reading these essays and various non-fiction items from SK. Funny how these were compiled only in a Book-of-the-month book and not published otherwise. Be aware that if you have already read "Danse Macabre", there is a fairly long section in this book (160 pages out of 430 total) which is excerpted from DM. But since I had not read DM, I'm thinking I might have to read that next to see what else SK had to say about horror writing. It's funny too how I haven't read any SK fiction books (and I'm embarrassed to say that) but am thoroughly enjoying what he has to say about horror and writing from a non-fiction perspective. I think it's because I tend to read late at night and scary stuff is just way too scary for me to read when it's dark out. I realize he has also written books which are not horror stories, and I do plan to read some of those now too. Anyhow, I think this book is great.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I love this collection., March 24, 2014
This review is from: Secret Windows: Essays and Fiction on the Craft of Writing (Hardcover)
There are quite a few gems you won't be able to find anywhere else in here. Really good for the Kind completionist.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book on/by Stephen King Read It If you are a Fan!, November 14, 2013
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This review is from: Secret Windows: Essays and Fiction on the Craft of Writing (Hardcover)
This is a one-of-a-kind book from the Book-Of-A-Month club (yes! they are still around but this book is from about 20 years ago). Great unique interviews about Stephen King and what has motivated his stories. He had a tough time when he was starting out. I'm scared when I read his stories but this book is more a "behind the scenes" of a writer book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Candid thoughts from Stephen King, October 10, 2013
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This review is from: Secret Windows: Essays and Fiction on the Craft of Writing (Hardcover)
Great book about the realities of writing. King's frank tone and candor make it very easy to love this book and his ideas. I'm a plotter, while King writes more by the seat of his pants, but his comments about the industry and the process were invaluable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars ordered it as a gift for my writer husband, April 21, 2013
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This review is from: Secret Windows: Essays and Fiction on the Craft of Writing (Hardcover)
He is so happy with this book. He has found it not only enlightening yet extremely helpful as a guide to his own writing.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Secret Windows: Essays and Fiction on the Craft of Writing, November 13, 2011
By 
Marilyn Lee "The BookRook" (Creston, NC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Secret Windows: Essays and Fiction on the Craft of Writing (Hardcover)
As always if there is any mention of Stephen King then it is something worthy of reading and digesting. Learning from the master or about the master at any given time is never a waste!
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