- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Scribner; 1st Edition edition (October 3, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743211537
- ISBN-13: 978-0743211536
- Package Dimensions: 8.1 x 5 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 3,507 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,315,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft Paperback – October 3, 2000
|New from||Used from|
|Paperback, October 3, 2000||
Inspire a love of reading with Prime Book Box for Kids
Discover delightful children's books with Prime Book Box, a subscription that delivers new books every 1, 2, or 3 months — new customers receive 15% off your first box. Learn more.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
"A one-of-a-kind classic."--The Wall Street Journal
"This is a special book, animated by a unique intelligence, and filled with useful truth."Michael Chabon
"On Writing had more useful and observant things to say about the craft than any book since Strunk and White's The Elements of Style."--Roger Ebert
“The best book on writing. Ever.”--The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
About the Author
Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. Among his most recent are Under the Dome, Just After Sunset, the Dark Tower novels, Cell, From a Buick 8, Everything's Eventual, Hearts in Atlantis, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Lisey's Story and Bag of Bones. His acclaimed nonfiction book, On Writing, is also a bestseller. He was the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Maine with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.
3,507 customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Mr. King recommends to 1000 words per day. Even at 5 days a week, for 50 weeks, you would finish with 250,000 words, which is the size of 2-3 novels in a year. However, the main goal is to make writing a daily habit, and that is just one of the many tips that you learn in the book.
I recommend the audio version along with the book (hardback, paperback or Kindle version). Mr. King is your narrator, and he truly brings his words to life in his presentation.
If you are looking for a book on the genre that Mr. King is best known, you might want to pass. However, if you want to learn what makes an author take up the pen or typewriter to earn their daily bread with poetry and/or prose, or you want to earn your daily bread with YOUR poetry and/or prose, this is the book for your professional library. Oh, and read it ALL the way through before putting the book's golden nuggets of information into practice. In the last couple of chapters, he truly teaches the magic of the written word, and it will make more sense when you have read through the book from start to finish.
The breadth of this memoir comes as a surprise—what is a memoir of a craft anyway? King divides his memoir into several parts, including:
• C.V. (17-101).
• What Writing Is (103-137).
• On Writing (141-249).
• On Living: A Postscript (253-270).
• And Furthermore, Part I: Door Shut, Door Open (271-284).
• And Furthermore, Part II: A Booklike (285-288).
• Further to Furthermore, Part III (289-291).
His chapters are preceded by three forewords and, in spite of its length, this memoir reads quickly—but not too quickly. Still, the breadth of this work comes from the way that King weaves his life and his craft together—a visitor to the King house might be advised to forbear exploring the closets! What the heck; let’s explore.
King is an author and a household name. He has written numerous (35+) books, many of which have also appeared in film. As an example, his breakout work, Carrie, sold first as a paperback novel (1973) and was released three years later as a horror film.
Interestingly, Tabitha, King’s wife, rescued an early manuscript of Carrie from the trash, as King recalls:
“I had four problems with what I’d written. First, … the story didn’t move me emotionally. Second, ... I didn’t much like the lead character. Carrie White seemed thick and passive, a ready-made victim. … Third, … [I] was not feeling at home with either the surroundings or my all-girl cast of supporting characters. … Fourth, … the story wouldn’t pay unless it was pretty long. … I couldn’t see wasting two weeks, maybe even a month, creating a novella I didn’t like and wouldn’t be able to sell. So I threw it away.” (76-77)
But, confronted with his Ideal Reader (Tabitha) telling him that this manuscript had promise, King went back and gave Carrie his best shot.
This notion of an Ideal Reader is interesting. King writes for his wife, Tabitha, who happens also to be an author, which seems most fortunate because she can articulate her opinions to King in actionable language. King explains:
“Call that one person you write for Ideal Reader. He or she is going to be in your writing room all the time: in the flesh once you open the door and let the world back in to shine on the bubble of your dream, in spirit during the sometimes troubling and often exhilarating days of the first draft, when the door is closed.” (219)
King sees the Ideal Reader as particularly helpful in judging story pace—“the speed at which your narrative unfolds”—and the details to include in your backstory—“all the stuff that happened before your tale began but which has an impact on the front story” (220-223).
Part of the back story in King’s memoir evolves into front story in his postscript where he describes in detail his experience of being run over by a Dodge van in June of 1999, while walking down a country road in rural Maine (253-255). This story of his near-death experience might have been just an interesting aside, except for the fact that King had motivational problems in finishing this memoir back in that summer (265). I suspect that his life story suddenly became a slightly higher priority, having been thrown 14 feet in the air (259) and improbably lived through the experience.
Before I wrap up this review, let me make one more observation. King has an interesting view of plot. He describes plot as too big a hammer (a jackhammer) for normal use by fiction author and he prefers to motivate his characters through stressful situations (164). If you believe that we act out of our identities, then no two characters will respond the same way to a given tricky situation. How a story evolves out of a situation is therefore interesting and potentially surprising because people discover the character in themselves as they are challenged by life’s situations—we are ultimately strangers to ourselves; that is, until we are not. The thrill in the thriller is therefore hard to duplicate with a plot-line where the author already knows where the story will go and how it will get there—it is better to scrape the plot and discover the character the same way that a reader might. Therefore, King looks for strong situations and explores interesting what-if scenarios to challenge his characters and writes intuitively about how they respond (169).
Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing, is an interesting and helpful book for wannabe and experienced authors both, because he explores both writing and the writing life. Film buffs might also read this book to garner the backstory on his films, many of which are now cult classics. Personally, I read this book mostly because I like to read and love to write—perhaps, you do too.