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Study Guides & Language Learning

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Amanda

Amanda Phoenix, AZ, United States Member Since 2010

I rate as follows: 5 Stars = Loved it. 4 Stars = Really liked it. 3 Stars = Liked it. 2 Stars = Didn't like it. 1 Star = Hated it.

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  • "Not just for aspiring authors."

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    This book is loosely broken into two portions; the first half is more auto-biographical, outlining Stephen King's childhood and life, and the second half delves more into writing itself. I genuinely and thoroughly enjoyed both sides of the book.

    I thought his outlooks were honest and intelligent, and he rarely gives opinions that masquerade as facts; he just gives his thoughts, acknowledging all the while they are simply opinions and preferences he has as an individual. That said, they are extremely educated opinions and gave a great deal of insight.

    I'm not an aspiring author myself, but I love the written word and I love listening to smart people - and this book satisfied on both fronts. It was like a great visit with this smart man, and I was sorry when I reached the end.

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    On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Stephen King
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    The prolific, perennially best selling author recounts his early life and writing struggles, gives advice on the crucial aspects of the writing art, and talks about his much-publicized, near-fatal accident.

    Bill says: "Excellent!"
  1. On Writing: A Memoir of t...
  2. .

A Peek at Jane's Bookshelf

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  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

    "Entertaining and engaging."

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    Maybe half of this is Steve’s personal life and the other half how he writes and his opinions on good writing. Steve narrates. I enjoyed listening to him.

    His personal life: A lot of writing when he was young. He met his wife in college. He taught high school English for about two years when his first novel Carrie was published. After that he had many bestsellers. He was an alcoholic and drug user for a while, both of which he gave up. He was surprised that he could write just as well without.

    1. Parts of Stories and No Plotting.
    Steve thinks of stories in three parts.

    A. Narration moves the story from point A to point B and finally to point Z.

    B. Description creates a sensory reality for the reader. He doesn’t do a lot of description. He doesn’t do clothes, and he doesn’t overdo physical appearance. He wants readers to supply some of that. He doesn’t describe everything in a room, just a few things.

    C. The third part is dialogue which brings characters to life.

    D. Steve says “You may wonder where is plot in all this? My answer is nowhere. I plot as little as possible. Plotting and the spontaneity of real creation are not compatible. Situation comes first and then watch what happens as the characters try to work themselves out of it. Most of the time the outcome is something I never expected.” Some critics say Steve’s weakness is his endings. And if he paid more attention to plot early in the process he might have better endings. Some experts say writers should start with a plot and outline. So, there are different opinions.

    Personally, I think Steve’s greatest talent is his creativity. And his method might be useful to others who want more creativity.

    I was amused with the story of how Steve came up with the “situation” which became the book “Carrie.” Steve was working with a high school janitor cleaning the girls locker room. He was surprised to see individual shower curtains. The boys had none. He asked the janitor. The janitor said girls are shy and they want to shower in private. Steve asked about the odd shaped box on the wall. The janitor explained it held plugs for girls on their periods. Steve then thought of a “situation” of a girl’s locker room with no shower curtains, a girl being embarrassed taking a shower, and other girls throwing plugs at her. (He used more colorful language than I.) This was the start of “Carrie.”

    2. Characters.
    Steve based the characters in “Carrie” on real life people he knew - the two loneliest most reviled girls in his high school class. One of them had an overly religious mother. Steve combined the two girls into Carrie and used the religious mother as Carrie’s mother.

    3. Don’t use critique groups as you write.
    Write the entire book without anyone else seeing it. Put that first draft aside for six weeks. Do other things, write other things, try not to think about it. Then read it and make revisions. This is your second draft. Then give the second draft to your friends, family, and beta readers. His point is not to use critique groups and writing classes prior to the second draft. He gives examples about this.

    4. Steve says don’t use adverbs. (I disagree.)
    Steve says “I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs.” My words: Steve has a degree in English (something). He has been trained to avoid adverbs by academia. In the book “Carrie” he used adverbs occasionally, but not often.

    Steve says “the Harry Potter novels are just fun, pure story from beginning to end.” My words: J.K. Rowling uses tons of adverbs in the Harry Potter books. And her books are the most successful fiction books in the world! Following are some wonderful adverb examples from the first Harry Potter book. “eyed them angrily” “whispering excitedly” “acting oddly today” “said as casually as he could” “appeared so suddenly and silently.” And for those of you who may argue that certain genres lend themselves to adverbs, please note that John Grisham also uses them liberally in his legal thrillers. Grisham is another top selling author. Examples from Grisham’s book “The Client:” “slowly looked at Ricky” “he exhaled calmly.” “Mark carefully picked a cigarette from his shirt pocket.” “Mark suddenly remembered.” “He mumbled loudly.”

    Some editors say adverbs are like spices, use a little not a lot. They would probably consider Rowling and Grisham as too many. Personally I love the way Rowling and Grisham write, but I also enjoyed the book “Carrie.”

    5. Other Advice from Steve.
    Every aspiring writer should read “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White.
    Don’t use big words when simpler words work.
    Use the first word that comes to your mind.
    Don’t fear overusing “said.” Steve says “using he said, she said is divine.”
    Don’t use cliche phrases like “at the end of the day” or “the fact that.”
    Avoid passive tense.
    To be a good writer you need to read a lot. Steve reads 70 to 80 books a year - mostly fiction. He’s a fan of audiobooks.

    Genre: nonfiction and autobiography.

Benita

Benita Warrensville Heights, OH, USA 12-23-09
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  • "Great reference source"

    2 of 2 helpful votes

    This was a great college level resource for people who enjoy reading well written books.

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    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs)
    • By Benjamin W. Griffith
    • Narrated By Stuart Langton
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    Designed to be compatible with virtually every standard textbook in its subject field, Barron's EZ-101 Study Keys gives you a valuable overview of your college-level course. From Middle English through the modern writers, English Literature covers the key themes, quotations, and literary terms.

    Benita says: "Great reference source"

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