Book Review : On Writing by Stephen King

On Writing (48)

by Stephen King

If you’re going to get good quality advice you want to get this advice from someone who really knows their stuff. Now there are plenty of writers you could approach to get decent advice on how to write however without a shadow of a doubt Stephen King is one of those writers.

If you don’t know Stephen King my first comment would be to ask “where have you been in the past 30 years?”. My second comment would be to explain the fact that Mr King has been responsible for not only some of the greatest horror fiction of the past three decades (Cujo, The Shining, Carrie) but has also shown incredibly versatility by being able to write cross genre (with stories like The Shawshank Redemption, The Running man and The Green mile)

In this particular book Stephen shares what ‘works’ for him when he writes. However before the book gets to share the tools, tips and tricks Stephen uses to write his books he first shows how much of a great storyteller he is.

You see the book starts with a mini biography. In this biography Stephen talks honestly and straightforwardly about his childhood, his upbringing, his family, his addictions, his successes, his failures and everything in between. Now I’m not sure if it was designed to be this way but I felt like the author was, in this particular section of the book, showing us how much of a great storyteller he is instead of just telling us throughout the book and regardless of whether this was intentional or not…it works!

It means that when you get to the section of the book containing the tips, tricks and tools of Stephen Kings trade you are already sold on his skills as a storyteller even if you wasn’t a fan before. Even if you are it’s still a masterclass in solid storytelling.

In the second section of the book, Stephen talks about writing specifically and whilst I don’t want to share anything specific (if you’re into writing you should read the book!) he provides useful nuggets in a bunch of different areas including the writing environment, writing with your audience in mind, editing, simplicity, swearing, grammar and use of language. It’s a testament to the book that as I write this I’m finding myself thinking about how to apply much of what’s shared within the pages of ‘in writing’.

In the relatively small third section of the book Stephen shares an incident which occurred whilst he was writing this particular book. Whilst walking near his home he was hit by a truck and suffered pretty severe injuries.

Stephen tells the story of the incident with undeniable style and flair but also shares his perspective on life since the accident which offers additional insight. For me the fact that his love for writing as well as his resilience and determination shine through.

So, if you’re into writing or want a fascinating insight into the life of one of the most prolific author of our time ‘on writing’ is well worth reading!

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