Posts tagged ‘memoirandbiography’

May 23rd, 2011

On Writing by Stephen King; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: On Writing: A Memoir of Craft

Author: Stephen King

Published: July 1st, 2001

Number of Pages: 288

Rating: 4/5


“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon the publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. 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 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 reads it — fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told. [From Goodreads


Some of this book – perhaps too much – has been about how I learned to do it. Much of it has been about how you can do it better. The rest of it – and perhaps the best of it 0 is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.

Drink and be filled up.


I love this book! (That’s my favorite way to begin a review!) Some of the only things in this world that I find more interesting than writing are people. I’m fascinated by them – their loves, hates, motives, what they say – it’s all mesmerizing. I love On Writing because it is a book about a writing and an individual.

I have never read a novel by Stephen King. The closest I’ve gotten is watching Stand By Me on edited television (and oh my gosh that scene with the leeches!). I must confess that I’ve always considered his books… silly pop fiction, but it’s evident after reading his memoir that the dude is brilliant. I can’t wait to read his books now (recommendations are welcome)!

On Writing begins with the man and proceeds to the writer. We start with Mr. King as a child and get to see how he develops into one of the most well-known men of the past century. There’s probably not a single person in America over the age of twelve who would not recognize the name Stephen King. So upon what did he build his fame? His love and appreciation for writing.

I love that he digs into the minute details of writing. The craft of it. He begins by listing the essentials in a writer’s “toolbox”. I was really hooked once he delved into the more delicate aspects, specifically theme, symbolism, and dialogue.

As every one of you knows, I’ve been struggling with the second draft of my book, The Lemonites. Whenever I sit down to work on it, I freeze up and suddenly can’t recall any of the millions of ideas I’ve had. One thing I’m very aware of is the lack of an overall arc. I need to tie the entire book together so that it has that flow and wholeness that a good book has. A key to this is determining the theme of the novel, and Mr. King did a fantastic job of explaining how he goes about this. I finally feel like I can wrap my head around the concept. Here’s a paragraph from the chapter focused on theme:

When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest. Not every book has to be loaded with symbolism, irony, or musical language (they call it prose for a reason, y’know), but it seems to me that every book – at least every one worth reading – is about something. You job during or just after the first draft is to decide what something or somethings yours is about. Your job in the second draft – one of them, anyway – is to make that something even more clear. This may necessitate some big changes and revisions. The benefits to you and your reader will be clearer focus and a more unified story. It hardly ever fails.

That’s what I’m looking for: a more unified story.

Theme is one of the dozens of things I’ve learned from On Writing. It’s such an enjoyable learning experience, too! There’s nothing better than learning and being entertained simultaneously. I know that I retain more information when the delivery of said information is riveting. Stephen King manages to pull you in with his almost brutally honest examination of life and writing, and the load you learn is simply a bonus (and a much-appreciated one at that).

I will never be as intrigued by a hobby, past-time, or job as I am by writing. I love it. It truly is the water of life to those of us who have discovered its value. Writing is fulfilling. It is a way of life – a mentality. Why not read a book that teaches about and glorifies it?