On Writing

A Memoir of the Craft
Length: 8 hrs
5 out of 5 stars (11,331 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Twentieth Anniversary Edition with Contributions from Joe Hill and Owen King

Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King’s critically lauded, million-copy best seller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work.

“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the best-selling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999 - and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who listens to it - fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told. 

The 20th-anniversary audio edition includes Owen King reading his essay, “Recording Audiobooks for My Dad, Stephen King”, and a recorded conversation with Joe Hill and Stephen King.

©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 listeners say about On Writing

Average Customer Ratings
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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.

66 people found this 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

68 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Instructional Manual, yes  But a real Keeper

Content

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.

Recording

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

Favorites

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.

29 people found this helpful

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

WHAT A STUNNING SURPRISE THIS WAS

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.

13 people found this helpful

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

The book that made me start writing

Stephen King is one of the best authors in the world. He has written more than 100 books, short stories and novellas in almost all genres out there. I experienced many of them as audiobooks, including 11/22/63, The Stand, Under the Dome, Pet Cemetary, Salem’s Lot, the Dark Tower series, the Mr. Mercedes Trilogy and many others, but the one that will live forever in a special part of my heart is On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. I will try to the best of my abilities to describe in this article what I gained by trying this book, but the gift is priceless…

I picked it up after I finished Carrie and just before I started The Dead Zone because I loved all the stories Mr. King told me over the years and hoped to glimpse how they came to be. I guess that you can say that I am on a Stephen King listening spree and you’ll be right, but I almost never read or listen to non fiction and I devoured this one, treasuring every word spoken directly to me by the author.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is absolutely amazing. If you are a Stephen King fan and want to learn more about him, about his life, his childhood and how he became the best-selling author he is today, this one will make your day. But, this part memoir, part writing manual is much more than that.

We, the listeners, find out how hard was life when Mr. King started out. How he discovered his talent for writing, how his love for storytelling grew with every book he read and every movie he watched, as well how we all need to want to tell a story in our own way, with our own words. All we have to do is to want to write…

I don’t want to even try to give anything away from what I discovered while listening to On Writing because It can’t be put into words. I decided to read this book as I wanted someday to write my own novel, as I have a few ideas that, I think, might be interesting enough, ideas that are clashing in my head for a few years and demand attention.

What I can express into words is that while I was listening to Mr. king telling me that all I need to do is to close my door on the world, boot up my Mac, keep in mind a few simple rules, well defined and argumented with examples in this work, the story will resolve, the characters will spring to life, the world will color itself And, guess what? Exactly that thing happened. I started writing, I began telling my story. What will come of it, when it will be done, if it will be published are just some questions that will get their answers in time, but the most important thing is that I give it my best while I am at it.

I consider the audiobook version of On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft to be the best narrative experience as the author talks directly to you. He makes you think, he makes you laugh, or cringe, but he always encourages you to start, to keep on going, to always be better. I consider Stephen King a great narrator as well, enjoyed his performances of many of his works, Needful Things coming to my mind as the most recent that I tried, and his delivery for On Writing is perfect!

If performed by any other person, even the best of the narrators out there, this experienced would have not been as personal as this one is, as read to you by its author… Not to many authors are good narrators, but Mr. King has all this figured out.

Thank you, Mr. King, for writing and for teaching us how to do it on our own! With your treasured advice and with my soon to be wife’s support, I am writing constantly… and I think that is exactly what your objective was when you wrote this book, to help people take their first baby steps in this medium.

I highly recommend On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft written and performed by Stephen King to those aspiring writers out there that are searching for advice on how to get started and to those fans that want to know more about their favorite author.

Please vote Helpful below if you like this review and find more of them here on Audible and on theAudiobookBlog dot com.
Sometimes I post reviews at the author's / narrator's / publisher's request.

12 people found this 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 people found this 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 people found this 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 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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 people found this 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.

13 people found this helpful