A fine little volume for aspiring writers, fans of King, or just avid readers. Time Magazine ranked this book in its top 10 non-fiction books and I get why.
This book has been heavily reviewed, so just a short thought: the final chapter talks about the car accident that nearly killed King and how his love of his wife and writing helped him to recover. This chapter is one of the best things I've ever read and particularly moving to hear King read it.
54 yrs, ,memb 12yrs,library -75%nonfic 10% fiction,15% classics. History, all sciences, bio, classics,diverse other interests.
What a remarkably fun ride this little book is! Lordy did I ever misjudge him. Who would have thought Steven King would be so funny? Other reviews here will tell you what this books about. What I want to convey is how enjoyable a read this was, just look at the ratings
I had never read or intended to read any of kings books. That horror crap was the last thing I ever wanted to read . Then I read this book which completely changed my view of him as a writer and as a person, then I heard an interview with him on the radio when his new release called "11/22/63" was being discussed and that sounded like a book I might really like because it dealt with time travel, I LOVED IT. So I explored his books and found that not all of them where hard core horror. Remember the great movies SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and STAND BY ME? He wrote those as books!
Under the dome was the next king book I read and again I LOVED IT, and let me tell you.... it was amazing on audible..WOW.. While the dome book had more than its fair share of murder and blood, it was done very well. Since, I've read many of his other books including "it" , Duma Key, The Stand, Misery, and the Green Mile which (let me tell you) made an astounding movie, If you want to have a truly rare first rate emotional experience. First read the green mile, then watch the movie. You will never forget it!! I think Its the most effective adaptation I've ever seen, and the special features on the dvd are really, really good and add an awful lot to the experience.
So the bottom line is that we always need to challenge our pre-conceived notions.and stay "open" I've even read some of his horror stuff and to my amazement...I liked it. It just wasn't what I thought it was.
I used to unwind from work in the car on the way home listening to sports talk radio. That no longer helps relieve my stress (sometimes it increases it). I switched to listening to audiobooks in the car, and I've never looked back. I truly believe you get an entirely different version of the book with an audiobook. I could write an entire thesis on why, but instead, you try it out and see what you think. That saves me a lot of time.
S. King does warn people this book is about writing and hence won't be interesting to anyone who isn't there to discuss that, and I agree with him on that point. I enjoyed the scaled down biography that takes place in the beginning and enjoyed what he had to say about writing also.
On the other hand, the book falls short on delivering anything truly substantial. It rambles on a good bit about topics (the use of adverbs, sentence structure, vocabulary) that don't deserve the attention they get and never really touches the points I would have liked to hear.
When I got the book, I wanted to know more about how he felt about where his ideas come from. Do you borrow from real life to get your ideas and then expand upon them? Are some of your characters based on people you know, and if so did that ever cause a problem? Are you trying to deliver a message in your books, or going after entertainment value alone? How should an aspiring author choose their genre?
Yes. This book was not one of his "stories".
No, I don't even know of any other books he has narrated.
Since he fell short on answering the questions I had, more time could have been spent on the biography portion of the book. Many King fans believe his ideas come from his childhood, so when he tells his life story he is indirectly telling you where his stories come from.
I didn't believe King did a very good job as narrator. Often, you could tell he was simply reading and speaking into a tape recorder. Not sure if I would have preferred another person doing it though. Having King speak to you has it's attraction.
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.”
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.
I wouldn't recommend this book for someone trying to become a writer. I'm sure it would be fine for that but there are probably better books on that score. This book excels on two points: first it was interesting to hear the context of some of the works that have become a part of the culture. Second I love hearing the story of a person who loves what they do and that's where this story really shines. If that's what you're looking for I'd recommend it.
Really fun to listen to and I'm glad King actually read the book too. Sometimes books read by the author are a huge mistake, but King does a great job with this. The first half of this book was a bit of a biography, at least of the parts of King's life that led him to writing. The second half wasn't so much a how-to-write book, as a way to think about writing. He gives an overview of what he thinks are the important parts of writing a story and some advice based on his own experience. I would recommend this even if you have no wish to be a writer, but would simply like a behind the scenes look at the world of writing.
This is the first and only book I have ever read by Stephen King. I'm not a fan of the horror-thriller genre of fiction, but I have always been aware of both King's fame... and his great talent as a writer.
In "On Writing," King's literary greatness shines through, for readers of all persuasions and preferences. It reads like a story, a novel in which the protagonist overcomes life's challenges, whilst intimately confiding the secrets of his success to the reader. The author's narration makes the message ever more intimate.
The "Afterword", in which King relates his near fatal accident, reads like a Stephen King short story, stunning in detachment, detail, humor, along with a touch of horror. Through it, we discover that life is about meaningful activity, and love. It's clear that King's compass has always pointed to his deep love for writing, and his deep love for his wife.
Stephen King is at the top of his game in this book. Part biography, part writing advice, part entertainment. I will likely re-listen to this book often. It's that good, and the content is that helpful. If you're a fan of Stephen King, or if you're looking for some good tips and motivation for writing, look no further.
Steven King does a great job of explaing how writing works for him by detailing his personal experiences that inspired him to write. He is very honest about his ability to teach others how to be writers and the fact that everyone is different and that sometimes it just doesn't work. Awsome book and very inspiring. I have greater respect for him as a writer than ever.
I heard this as a recommendation off a popular tech podcast - I've never been a great writer, however i could always get my point across.
Me personally, i'm a student of success, and who better to learn from than one of the greats?! Not a straight up, laid out, here is how i write well, try it and see what works... but it's weaved with his life story.
Overall great nuggets of gold scattered throughout, and entertaining the whole way through. I would have given it 4 1/2 stars only because at some points Steven reading sounds a little bit tired (not the whole way through just little parts) but if i had to choose 4 or 5 i went with 5 stars...
check it out and learn something.