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On Writing

A Memoir of the Craft
Narrated by: Stephen King
Length: 8 hrs
4.5 out of 5 stars (10,083 ratings)

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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." (

"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

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Who needs a print edition when King reads King?

I got this as one of the freebies when I signed up for Audible-- I don't know if I would have paid for it, because I'm not the biggest King fan in the world. I figured that if I didn't like it, hey, it was free.

It would have been worth paying retail.

Firstly, this is read by Stephen King himself. I cannot express how much this adds to the work. It's like sitting down at a table with Stephen King and talking to him. He may not be the best reader in the world-- there are several points where you can tell that he's reading from the page-- but the Audible rating system doesn't have an option to give 4.99999 stars.

This is really two short books rolled into one. The writing book is great. He covers all of the parts of writing, including the mechanics, the language, the creating, and even the marketing and selling. I am an aspiring writer, and I got more out of this than some classes and workshops. He doesn't go on forever, like a lot of blowhard writing workshops, he just makes his point and keeps going.

The other book is about King himself. I get the feeling that this is all we'll ever see of an autobiography of Stephen King. That part of it is not very long, and most of it is the story of his career rather than his life. As many King fans already know, he was hit by a van while he was writing this book. He talks about this experience here. I'm not entirely sure I buy that the miniautobiography figures into the theme of the book, but I'm not going to kvetch. It's FASCINATING. It may not have much to do with Writing, but to hear King talk about his own life-- and his near-death-- is worth the price alone.

56 of 56 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Honest and moving memoir + simple tips on writing

I am never a fan of stephen king. In fact, I read one of his books and decided that I will never read another. But this one is "on writing", a topic I am very interested in plus the review of other buyers are good so I gave it a try. It turned out to be such a good listen. Memoirs of the writer interwined with useful tips on how to start and improve one's writing. I turned from a non-fan to someone who gave high respect for Mr. King. This is a book that is written with ulmost honesty and sincerity. The memoir parts are moving with tears and laughters. I have the urge to call my struggling to write friends to stop and listen. Highly recommended

63 of 64 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Instructional Manual, yes  But a real Keeper


This work is divided into two general parts.
King opens with a lengthy memoir that "attempted to show some of the incidents and life-situations which made me into the sort of writer I turned out to be." He works his way through his stages as a writer from childhood to novice to apprentice to worldwide success.

King addresses his battle with alcohol and drug abuse, when it started, how it evolved and how he eventually was forced to confront his problem. He adds some wonderful information about the books he wrote (I don?t want to give these away ? they are fun to discover on your own.) And his own opinions about which of his books he thinks are good, and those he finds deficient.

Here is the opportunity to read King on King, and on his books. He describes the symbolism in many of his novels, rarely planted intentionally on the first draft but discovered during the writing of the second draft.
The second part is the instructional part.

This part of the book is full of advice, much of it common sense ? some of it uniquely King's. His description of the writer's toolbox: Common tools on the top shelf (vocabulary and grammar), elements of grammar and style on the second level, along with an understanding of the paragraph as the basic element in fiction, and a synthesis of all of these along with innate and developed skills at the bottom.


Stephen King records this selection himself. He does a brilliant job.


King gives a very thorough account of his nearly fatal accident in 1999. This passage is very humanizing.
Throughout the book, King pays tribute to wife, Tabitha. She is King's "Ideal Reader," the person for whom he writes all of his books. His love and admiration for her shines through the book, from a touching scene from their courtship, to her organization of an intervention confronting his addiction problems, and all the way through to her support and encouragement of him during his convalescence.

24 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A gift from a gifted writer

King is probably the best pure story teller of his time. He proves his ability by doing what must be incredibly hard for a fiction writer; he tells his own true story in a compelling manner. King's voice was the only voice for this book, perfect choice because the book and the reading have a unique unity. I feel like I got to know the guy like I knew my favorite teacher in high school - giving me insight into his real life while drawing me into the subject matter (in this case, how to write). If you think you can write, listen to this book. If you'd like to write, listen to this book. If you can't stand writing, listen to this book. You won't be disappointed.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars


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.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The first of his books I've read, but not the last

If you're a writer, do yourself a favor and read this book. This is the first book I'd ever read by Stephen King, mainly because I wasn't interested in his genre. What I am interested in is writing, and having just finished this book I rank it up there as being one of the best I've read on that subject. I found it to be interesting, entertaining, thought provoking, and inspiring. While it is light on the technical aspects of writing, it does touch on them, and you can look elsewhere for details. This is about the art of writing, the why of writing, and the inspiration for writing. Reading this book inspired a new story idea and approach; I am excited to continue writing this one--exploring where the characters take it. I have a new respect for Stephen King after reading this book and I look forward to trying one of his fiction works. Thank you, Mr. King!

28 of 30 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Gift to Writers

Buy this book on audio.

If anyone out there is anything like me then you are looking at this book because you are a writer, you have questions about writing and you have a desire to improve your writing. This recording has one unique and powerful element: Stephen King reads the narration himself creating a one-on-one conversational aspect I have never experienced in an audible book.
King cuts through and breaks down the illusions of amateur writing and tells it like it is, like it should be. He does not make rules or attempt to police the lifestyle of a writer. Instead, his is a book of suggestions, personal stories and honest opinions on writing.
This has been the single most helpful book/experience that I have yet encountered as a writer and I think many of you will agree. In a profession where the path to learning and mastering the craft is a shrouded and personal path, Stephen King proved an unexpected mentor on the journey.
You don't have to be a Stephen King fan to appreciate this book! I had never once read a book of his before and seriously wondered if a horror writer could help. His messages transcend any genre and are applicable to anyone who loves to write...
(I am now reading his 'The Gunslinger' and am sure to read many more.)

Thanks Stephen King!

Try it, buy it!

25 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The best non-fiction book I own

Where does On Writing rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

On Writing is one of the very best books I've listened to so far.

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

Stephen King's honest, sometimes snarky, wisdom. He is a master of his craft.

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

I was surprised by Stephen King's wonderful narration. These are his words, and he brings them to life in a way that never drags or becomes boring. He did a fantastic job.

Any additional comments?

This is hands down the best non-fiction audiobook I have ever listened to, and an invaluable tool for writers and aspiring writers alike.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Must Read Autobiography for All King Fans

Stephen King's <U> On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft</U> exposes the us to a side of the writer that hasn't been seen all in one place before. As an avid <I>constant reader</I>, I often look forward to Mr. King's introductions and afterwords as much as I do the actual content of the book; well almost as much. <U>On Writing</U> does instruct one how to write, or at least, how a very successful writer writes, but it is much more a generous autobiography than a dry instructional text. From the crazy days of his childhood with (his brother) Dave's "super-duper electro-magnet" to his harrowing account of the tragic roadside accident that has altered his life forever,

<U>On Writing</U> shows us who does the writing more than how it is done. Extremely funny and honest, <U>On Writing</U> is filled with account after account of Stephen King's life. It is read by the author, who has always made up for not being a "professional voice" by breathing an authors life into a book in a way only the author can do. The advice he does offer for writers is more about being honest and working hard than what to write or how to get published. It is a book written by one of those few people in life who is "'getting paid to do what he loves.'"

If you have never heard Stephen King before, if you have been turned off by the "genre", hear <U>On Writing</U> from today, to find out what you have been missing and why you shouldn't miss another word from Stephen King.

33 of 37 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

It Started Me Writing Again

Easy to read, part memoir part writer's manual. Honest information from a man who understands what the public wants. You will finish this book knowing more about why we read and why we write.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful