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On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft | [Stephen King]

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

To begin with, you've got Stephen King, a writer so talented in the art of thrill-generation that he could insert excitement into the assembly instructions for a bookshelf. Or, say, a book about writing and grammar. And that's precisely what King does in On Writing, an improbably fascinating, relentlessly compelling trip through the mind, style, life, and work of one of our greatest popular writers.

Hearing this unique combination of anecdotes and insider's advice told in King's charmingly nasal voice makes an already insightful narrative even more personal and powerful. If you want to write, this audiobook will quickly become a treasured resource, because it will improve your writing. But even if you have no interest whatsoever in writing, King's anecdotes and instructions into the art and process will probably make you a better, more informed reader.

Publisher's Summary

"If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write." Here is Stephen King's master class on his craft.

On Writing begins with a mesmerizing account of King's childhood and his early focus on writing to tell a story. A series of vivid memories from adolescence, college, and the struggling years that led up to his first novel, Carrie, offer a fresh and often funny perspective on the formation of a writer. King then turns to the tools of his trade, examining crucial aspects of the writer's art and life, offering practical and inspiring advice on everything from plot and character development to work habits and rejection.

King was in the middle of writing this book when he was nearly killed in a widely reported accident. On Writing culminates with a profoundly moving account of how his need to write spurred him toward recovery, and brought him back to his life.

©2000 Stephen King, All Rights Reserved; (P)2000 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Spunky, vivid prose are the prime ingredients of what must be considered not at all the usual writer's guide." (Booklist)
"On Writing contains some of the most harrowing pages he has ever written." (Salon.com)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (2208 )
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  •  
    Sakhi Los Angeles, CA, United States 10-29-12
    Sakhi Los Angeles, CA, United States 10-29-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Insightful Instruction from a Grandmaster!"
    What made the experience of listening to On Writing the most enjoyable?

    This was very personal. Mr. King presented the information in as interesting a manner as possible. His humor and sincerity kept me reading, and his work ethic inspired me. Interestingly, he recommends work habits that line up nicely with that of another successful writer I admire. And I have seen the quality of my own writing improve. I highly recommend this audiobook to anyone interested in seeing their work published.


    Have you listened to any of Stephen King’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have listened to him read "The Wind through the Keyhole", one of his Dark Tower books. His sincerity, and his love of storytelling draw me into the story and I find that his voice grows on me. But this book was even better, because it was King on King. Hilarious and touching.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rick Cotacachi, Ecuador 10-28-12
    Rick Cotacachi, Ecuador 10-28-12 Member Since 2000
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    "The Writer's Wisdom"

    I was an early fan of Stephen King--Carrie, The Stand, Salem's Lot, Christine and many more. After awhile I couldn't keep up with his output, but still dipped in for later titles, such as It, and Under the Dome. I once told a literary friend that I was a King fan and she replied, "I won't tell anyone." Because his prolific writing earned him the assumption in many quarters that he was just grinding out the books as fast as they could be printed, and banking the millions.

    This book reveals a thoughtful writer in a deeply personal way. He is someone who cares very much about his craft, and this work knits his childhood and youth with the writer he became, combining memoir and lecture in engaging stories, well told. He has become an excellent narrator. Stephen King the one-man horror book factory becomes Stephen King the complex and fascinating individual in more than 8 hours of listening that races by.

    Yes, there's plenty of practical information for aspiring novelists, but there's also can't-put-it-down material from a master storyteller.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kevin B. Leigh Alden, NY 10-08-12
    Kevin B. Leigh Alden, NY 10-08-12 Member Since 2002
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    "Teaches with stories, typical Stephen"

    Great writers amaze me. The ability to take a mundane subject like learning how to write and wrapping it in a life's work, is what makes Stephen King enjoyable to read/listen.
    Having the author read the story has the added benefit of his inflection.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bryan CUMBERLAND, RI, United States 10-01-12
    Bryan CUMBERLAND, RI, United States 10-01-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Worthwhile"
    What made the experience of listening to On Writing the most enjoyable?

    Loved Stephen's reading of this.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of On Writing?

    I didn't know a lot of the life behind the famous writer. I came for the writing tips, but really felt moved by the life story.


    What does Stephen King bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Hearing him talk about his own life definitely adds to the experience.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    POW!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pablo Coatzacoalcos, Mexico 10-01-12
    Pablo Coatzacoalcos, Mexico 10-01-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Autobiografy and learning to write"
    What made the experience of listening to On Writing the most enjoyable?

    I enjoyed knowing the motivations of Stephen to write his books


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Stephen was the most important character in the story because it is mostly an autobiography.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen San Diego, CA, United States 09-24-12
    Stephen San Diego, CA, United States 09-24-12 Member Since 2009

    I'm just this guy, y'know?

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    "Helpful and targeted advice..."

    I feel like I should be able to write a longer and better review after having read it. :)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane University Park, MD, United States 09-04-12
    Diane University Park, MD, United States 09-04-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Delicious Stephen King without the scary."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Stephen's creative perspective comes through so powerfully in this book. His background story and life experiences folded in amongst the knowledge he shares on the writing process make this book a very entertaining as well as informative read.


    What other book might you compare On Writing to and why?

    I don't know if comparison is the right word but "On Writing" makes me think of "The Dancing Mind" by Toni Morrison. Toni's book makes me think of why I'd want to write. Stephen's book points me to the how. Both books I reread or re-listen to often. Toni's is only ten pages so rereading is easy and quick. Stephens I have on my MP3 player so easy access on the train or wherever.


    What about Stephen King’s performance did you like?

    The poetic pauses just before a particularly funny line like, "I have to push." are very well done. But his general delivery was delightful. I was walking into a CVS while listening to "On Writing" for the first time. Stephen was relaying the babysitter, "Eula/Beulah" story. I had to pull my earbuds out of my ears because I was howling so loudly. I wasn't just looking like the crazy lady that talks to herself as she wanders through the store. More like the "grab the kids and move away from, off her rocker" kind of lady. It was hysterical.

    Even the story about dropping the cinder block on his toes as a two year old was a really enjoyable story to listen to. I could see the small child's determination to place that cinder block in preparation for his really big show.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    "I have to push." No no just kidding. "It's about the day job. It's about the language."


    Any additional comments?


    Loved it!

    I'd like to say that when I grow up I want to write just like Stephen King (and Toni Morrison). I'm 52 now so I'm going to work on it but it might be the next life time.

    Very Entertaining.

    How about an online course Stephen? Non accredited of course unless that's something you're in to. But wow oh wow I would love to take that course. It would have to be the basics for someone like me but I'd sign on for whatever you'd decide to share on the writing process.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roland Odenton, MD, United States 09-04-12
    Roland Odenton, MD, United States 09-04-12
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    "Great but there's one thing you..."

    The audio book was great, I can't deny that, but Stephen King doesn't practice what he preaches. Most of his novels are a lesson in complex word discovery.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Spanish Fork, UT, United States 08-21-12
    Jeff Spanish Fork, UT, United States 08-21-12
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    "Instructions from a Master"

    Stephen King is arguably one of the greatest writers of our time, and On Writing is his attempt to give those new to writing the tools and encouragement they need in order to write better fiction. If I could boil my review down to one word, it would be: incredible.

    The audiobook is narrated by King himself, which adds a lot to the emotion and pacing of the text. You get a natural spoken rhythm, along with a clarity that you may not get with somebody else reading it if there is a confusing part in the prose. Those two things come together to make this a short but very enjoyable listen.

    As for the actual text, King splits the book up into two halves: his CV, or basically everything that happened up until he started writing the book, and On Writing where he talks about the nuts and bolts of writing. His stories are interesting and every word is engaging. I believe it was Brandon Sanderson that said that "Stephen King can write excitement into a set of IKEA assembly instructions." It's true. There is a section on the importance of vocabulary and grammar that I was able to listen to with rapt attention, despite the fact that it can be one of the most boring topics imaginable. Granted, he didn't get into how to construct a sentence, but that wasn't his intention.

    This is a fantastic read. Or listen. To hear one of the modern masters describing his own experiences and processes gives us an insight into what it really means to write, to read and to experience the magic and telepathy involved in literature. It is magic, after all. I just want to finish this review with a short quote that I found particularly inspirational from the book:

    "Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy. Much of [this book] has been about how you can do it better. The rest of it ... is a permission slip. You can, you should and if you're brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic. As much the water of life as any other creative art. The water's free. So drink. Drink and be filled up."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sharon CIBOLO, TX, United States 08-20-12
    sharon CIBOLO, TX, United States 08-20-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Memoir on life and writing"
    What made the experience of listening to On Writing the most enjoyable?

    Stephen King is a great fiction writer. His story of his life is just as candid and vivid. This is a good book for those interested in writing and see how fiction reflect reality.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of On Writing?

    I enjoyed the events that was going on in Stephen King's life with the stories he was writing.


    What about Stephen King’s performance did you like?

    He was funny.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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