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On Writing by Stephen King – Got This For My Gf And She Loved It

August 5, 2011

Short and snappy as it is, Stephen Kings On Writing really contains two books: a fondly sardonic autobiography and a tough-love lesson for aspiring novelists. The memoir is terrific stuff, a vivid description of how a writer grew out of a misbehaving kid. Youre right there with the young author as hes tormented by poison ivy, gas-passing babysitters, uptight schoolmarms, and a laundry job nastier than Jack Londons. Its a ripping yarn that casts a sharp light on his fiction. This was a child who dug Yvette Vickers from Attack of the Giant Leeches, not Sandra Dee. I wanted monsters that ate whole cities, radioactive corpses that came out of the ocean and ate surfers, and girls in black bras who looked like trailer trash. But massive reading on all literary levels was a craving just as crucial, and soon King was the published author of I Was a Teen-Age Graverobber. As a young adult raising a family in a trailer, King started a story inspired by his stint as a janitor cleaning a high-school girls locker room. He crumpled it up, but his writer wife retrieved it from the trash, and using her advice about the girl milieu and his own memories of two reviled teenage classmates who died young, he came up with Carrie. King gives us lots of revelations about his life and work. The kidnapper character in Misery, the mind-possessing monsters in The Tommyknockers, and the haunting of the blocked writer in The Shining symbolized his cocaine and booze addiction (overcome thanks to his wifes intervention, which he describes). Theres one novel, Cujo, that I barely remember writing.

King also evokes his college days and his recovery from the van crash that nearly killed him, but the focus is always on what it all means to the craft. He gives you a whole writers tool kit: a reading list, writing assignments, a corrected story, and nuts-and-bolts advice on dollars and cents, plot and character, the basic building block of the paragraph, and literary models. He shows what you can learn from H.P. Lovecrafts arcane vocabulary, Hemingways leanness, Grishams authenticity, Richard Doolings artful obscenity, Jonathan Kellermans sentence fragments. He explains why Harts War is a great story marred by a tin ear for dialogue, and how Elmore Leonards Be Cool could be the antidote.

King isnt just a writer, hes a true teacher. –Tim Appelo

Simply The Best Book Ever Written On The Art Of Writing
Though Ive been a long-time fan of Stephen King [well, more a fan of his earlier works actually], I had put off reading On Writing for some reason. When I did read it, I found it to be an insightful read into Kings life and also on the craft of writing. The first part of the book is about Kings life – childhood, his life struggles, his family and also the accident that almost cost him his life. The second part of the book deals with the writing craft, but this isnt really a how-to book on writing – instead it gives us insight into how King himself approaches writing and his Prime Rule: Read a lot and write a lot. He does cover some basics, but once again, these are written in a down-to-earth manner that will entertain non-writers just as much as they serve up hints to aspiring writers. All in all, On Writing is not so much a manual about writing as a craft as it is a perceptive look at King the author, in his own words, as well as his approach to the craft.

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On Writing by Stephen King

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