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

Critic Reviews

"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)
"These rare glimpses into King's personal life - as related in his earnest tone and real (thank God) Maine accent - are fascinating.... If you write - or want to - get this book." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bill
  • Detroit, MI, USA
  • 12-18-02

Excellent!

This is an excellent book! If you're a writer looking for inspiration and an education, or just a fan of Stephen King, I highly recommend this audio book. Stephen has real insight into things a writer needs to keep in mind while working on their own "bestsellers". He also writes an engaging book and throws in an autobiography of sorts. We get to learn about him and how he grew up to be the writer he is. We also learn about his tragic accident and how this changed his life. The only fault I can find in this audiobook is that his voice is a bit monotone (sorry Stephen).

23 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amanda
  • Phoenix, AZ, United States
  • 10-27-11

Not just for aspiring authors.

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.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lee
  • MUNCIE, IN, USA
  • 05-16-10

Why Stephen King Is Stephen King

If you've ever wondered what makes Stephen King tick, or if you've ever wondered what it would be like to have him tell you what it takes to become one of the most prolific writers of our time, this is a must listen. Whether you are a wannabe novelist, or merely a fan of Mr. King, you will not be disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I am SO glad that the author read it himself. A gift, in my opinion.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Annette
  • South Holland, IL, USA
  • 09-20-07

Entertaining and Educational

I had not read a single Steven King novel before this one, I will now have to read some.

The tone and language of this book is so comfortable that it is like talking with the author over coffee at Starbucks. Much of the book is biographical in nature, but King's talent at turning a phrase makes even the long narratives educational. I constantly wondered how he came up with certain phrases, and laughed out loud in several places.

If you want to write, this has lots of great tips and even an exercise. If you just want to be entertained, Steven King is a great story teller.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • GTC
  • BEAUMONT, TX, US
  • 08-17-04

Fabulous

Not just for aspiring authors, this is a book you should read simply because it's a great book: well written, entertaining and thought provoking. If you ever intend to write anything -- even a letter to your mother -- it will help you do it better. But even if you are only a reader, and never intend to write a word for any reason for the rest of your life, you'll love it for the peek you'll get at the windmills inside a great author's mind.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

How the King's thinking machinery works

Any additional comments?

Just to get my bias out of the way, I am a huge Stephen King fan. I have very minimal tolerance for those erudite intellectuals who feel best about themselves when criticizing the literary accomplishment of Mr. King. So if you are reading this review and are one those erudite intellectuals, I will gladly meet you in a quite location and to beat you with a copy of The Stand. As for the rest of us, On Writing gives Mr. King the opportunity to explain his personal writing process in a very detailed and well organized fashion. I am fascinated to learn about how true professionals approach a job or task. I recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn how artists and professionals solve problems, approach problems, and engage a task. On Writing also allows Mr. King to identify how some the early childhood experiences that shaped hime into a successful writer. Mr. King fully gives himself to the book, where he is brutally honest and make no apologies for the fact that reading On Writing is will not make you a great writer. Instead, READ the works others and engage in lots of practice WRITING.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Finally, a Stephen King book for me!

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Must read for all writers

I can only join in with the other glowing reviews. This is an honest, fascinating, helpful, and (of course) well-written book. The autobiographical part demonstrates how much writing is an internal need that shows through even in pretty desperate circumstances. A wonderful antidote to our 'get rich and famous quick, without real hard work or self examination' society. The part on writing is most helpful for fiction writers, but is illuminating for all writers. Even though King's genre is not my cup of tea, I learned a lot about writing and gained respect for King himself.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Ah Stephen, just what I thought it would be...

For the entire weekend my family and neighbors though I had gone mad. Yes, she finally had done it I am sure they all were thinking. Our in the yard working, my Audible Otis strapped to my side, earphones on, and laughing as Stephen King entertained me. So personal, that New England voice of his. My delight came from a combination of his characteristic wit, his ability to tell a good yarn, and the similarities in our past. I would have liked The Vomit.

Ah Stephen, you didn't waste your talent. Your right were you should be.



6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Final Chapter Worth Your Credit By Itself

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful