Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling 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 the 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.
There is a reason why Stephen King is one of the bestselling writers in the world, ever. Described in the Guardian as ‘the most remarkable storyteller in modern American literature’, Stephen King writes books that draw you in and are impossible to put down.
I have wanted to read On Writing for a long time but the thought of picking it up terrified me. Not because Stephen King is a master of the horror genre; he undoubtedly is. It was actually the fear of what came next that made me scared to read it. As a wannabe fiction author I read a lot of books about how to write and a lot of them give practical advice – do this, don’t do that etc. However, what I found when reading On Writing was more than tick boxes of what I should do; I found inspiration. I managed to plot the novel that I would like to write from beginning to end and since then I have been feeling like I have reached a creative boom. Now, I am not completely giving Stephen King credit for this, it was my idea after all, but I cannot denounce his efforts.
I didn’t really know what to expect with On Writing. I didn’t read the subheading about it being a memoir and if I had I guess what I read wouldn’t have come as much of a shock. It is a fascinating read. If it was a fictional story it is about a man who perseveres until he gets to fulfil his dream of being a writer and that is always going to be inspiring. King’s wit, wisdom and experience drip off the pages and you feel compelled to keep reading. This is by far the best (and ok, the only) writing manual/memoir that I have ever read.
Whilst the advice about writing wasn’t the typical or formulaic type that you would find in other manuals it did serve (for me anyway) as a starting off point – I probably wont remember the exact point ten books from now – in the moment, I found it to be rather useful.
It has to be said that the postscript was the best part of the book. King describes an experience of being knocked over by a bad driver with unmerciful detail that you feel like you have been knocked over yourself. His description of the event was phenomenal. Based on that reason alone, I highly recommend On Writing to anyone and everyone. There is a reason why Stephen King is a bestselling author.
On Writing by Stephen King is available now.