Review of 'On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft'

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

on_writing.jpg I have always admired Stephen King's writing, the way it seems so real and honest. I find him very easy to read. Many criticise his work for being populist but what is writing if not for the masses? Surely books are meant to be read and enjoyed?

“On Writing” sees King talk not only about writing but also about himself with the book divided into three main sections: “C.V.” where he talks about himself and how he started writing, “Toolbox” on the basic tools that every writer should have and use, “On Writing” where he provides tips and information on the art of writing, and “On Living: A Postscript” where he talks about the accident in 1999 that very nearly took his life. At the end of the book he provides a sample of editing as well as several lists of books he has enjoyed and would recommend (one from when this book was originally published and a second of books he has more recently read).

To King writing comes extraordinarily naturally. He is able to concentrate and write very easily as a stream of consciousness freely admitting that he rarely plots and mostly lets the characters do what they want to do which creates the story. He spends a lot of his time writing but, perhaps more surprisingly, an equal amount of his time is spent reading. Not necessarily in studying the work of others but in the appreciation of a work but at the same time likely absorbing technique and ideas. He is regimented in his writing regime and takes it very seriously indeed. On the subject of authorship he has a few tips for the aspiring writer including setting a fixed limit on the amount of writing you must do in a day and getting an agent once you have started publishing. As for technique he has several thoughts: Avoid adverbs as much as possible, avoid the passive voice and after creating the first draft as a simple dump of your mind onto paper aim for the second draft to be at least 10% shorter. As you might expect he also freely allows for breaking of any rules, grammar or self-manufactured, if required.

King is often accused of being “in it for the money” which he answers as follows: “The answer is no. Don't now and never did. Yes, I have made a great deal of dough from my fiction, but I never set a single word down on paper with the thought of being paid for it.”

An interesting insight into the man as well as into the art of writing. It is not easy but to him and other authors, it is who they are.

Rating: “Nothing going for it”

Review Date: 2023-02-26

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publisher: Hodder

Publication Date: 2012

ISBN: 9781444723250

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