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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 (2343 )
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  •  
    Toivo Fairbanks, AK, USA 06-05-12
    Toivo Fairbanks, AK, USA 06-05-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Tedious until you get past the first half"

    The first half of this book is a sort of autobiography. I can't imagine why it was included. I did learn that his brother is a super-genius or something like that. I am sure he is a wonderful guy and I admire King a hell of a lot, but I just didn't have much interest in the beginning of this book.

    The rest is, as the title says, more of a memoir on the craft of writing. I do not believe that it is particularly helpful to a writing student. It isn't much in the way of instructions on how to write (for that see Lawrence Block or, better, Sol Stein) as mostly just what King does. But what works for King might not work for others.

    King has an amazing talent for characterizations that draw readers into his stories. I think he could write a book using any technique imaginable and it'd come out pretty good because of his characters. I was hoping to learn something about how to do that or at least get a glimpse of the master at work, but I don't feel I got that.

    For anyone interested in writing, I'd recommend this. It is always interesting to see the creative process at work, a topic about which writers are traditional secretive when it comes to the details. On the other hand I have gotten more helpful writing advice from online writer's blogs than I did from this book. That doesn't mean it wasn't a good book, but my expectations were at odds with my experience.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sibyl United States 05-28-12
    Sibyl United States 05-28-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Loved it. Very Informative! Thanks, Stephen"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    If you are thinking of writing, and writing horror, this is a must.


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

    I loved the Toolbox reference, and all of the things you need to write.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexis SAN FRANCISCO, CA, United States 05-16-12
    Alexis SAN FRANCISCO, CA, United States 05-16-12
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    "Worth the Listen"
    What made the experience of listening to On Writing the most enjoyable?

    Great guide for writing. Memoir part is great and the writing tips are really helpful. King's performance of the text is quality. I appreciated both the writing and writing tips and the reading.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dara Canon City, CO, United States 04-30-12
    Dara Canon City, CO, United States 04-30-12
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    "King's narration = One of my favorite books ever"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    YES. The writing advice is highly practical, and King reads it with such a personal flair that I can't imagine having digested this book any other way.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    n/a


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

    I felt like he was reading it just to me - his inflections, his unique voice and tone, it made it a journey I will revisit often.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Highly inspired to get my writing career going, and will now use "Uncle Stephen" as the mentor in my head.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ron Crofton, MD, United States 04-30-12
    Ron Crofton, MD, United States 04-30-12
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    "Inspiring."
    What did you love best about On Writing?

    Surprisingly candid. Great story telling.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Thoughtful, honest and spellbinding. A book that could only have been narrated by Mr. King. A great opportunity to learn from the master. The audio adds immeasurably to the story.


    Which character – as performed by Stephen King – was your favorite?

    Stephen King. It turns out that he is, in no way, the monster that I had envisioned prior to hearing his book. Whomever decided to allow Mr. King to narrate his book deserves a gold star and a seat at the head of the class.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The entire story/presentation was not unlike the beginning of an earthquake. Just enough rumbles to get going and then swallowing up the listener with wonderful stories. Bravo!


    Any additional comments?

    Maybe another "inside" story by the author?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffrey Berrien Springs, MI, United States 04-23-12
    Jeffrey Berrien Springs, MI, United States 04-23-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Inside the head of the most published auther"
    Would you listen to On Writing again? Why?

    I would listen again because King's encouragement and style are engaging and fascinating.


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

    Strunk & White meet Frankenstein


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The Intervention


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    His telling of the accident.


    Any additional comments?

    Wonderful book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary United States 04-23-12
    Gary United States 04-23-12
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    "Good for Future Writers"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes if they are a Stephen King fan and if they were even thinking about becoming a writer


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Stephen King


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

    This is the first one


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When he was writing in the laundry room of the trailer and threw away Carrie and Tabitha rescued it from the round filing cabinet


    Any additional comments?

    He was definitely a little different then what I had imagined him to be

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carl United States 04-10-12
    Carl United States 04-10-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Good if you have the right expectations"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan 04-02-12
    Dan 04-02-12
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    "Entertaining reminiscences but thin on pearls"
    What did you like best about On Writing? What did you like least?

    The personal memoir was entertaining and encouraging, but it was much longer on 'memoir' than it was on 'craft'.


    What about Stephen King’s performance did you like?

    Smooth and consistent.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No. Not that sort of book.


    Any additional comments?

    As a memoir of the craft, I had hoped that the discussion of craft would be deeper. I certainly don't regret the time spent with it, but there weren't really any new revelations about the craft of writing, just reiterating things I've heard from others or figured out on my own. Perhaps that just means I'm on the right track.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Glitterific 03-27-12
    Glitterific 03-27-12
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    "Part Memoir, Part Writing Guide- All Good"

    I decided to listen to this audiobook, to get inspiration to work on my dissertation. Even though it is a completely different type of writing, this audiobook provided grammatical guidance, ideas for developing writing style, and more importantly ideas for developing in the habits of mind and practice essential to getting started and completing the project.

    All the while, King tells us bits of his personal life story to illustrate points and to explain where his ideas came from. Wow.

    Recently I've listened to his 11 /22/ 63, which is an amazing book, and between these two books, I really have developed an appreciation for King's ability to think through complicated storylines, and to narrate in very simple language. This is a skill we all could use.

    Spoiler alert: King tells us about his terrible car accident in the summer of 2001 at the end of this book. He continued to work at On Writing while recovering. This alone was worth the purchase price for me. I can't recommend this book more highly. ( With apologies to Stephen for using an adverb.)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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