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Review: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Editorial Review - Bookreporter.com - Joe Hartlaub

There is an immutable law that states: "People who love law and sausage should never watch either being made." People who love reading, I think, are a bit different. Who among us, in the middle of the latest work by one of our favorite authors, hasn't stopped and asked in wonder, "How do they do it?!" Stephen King, in his (first) Forward to ON WRITING: A Memoir of the Craft, chats for just a bit ... Read full review

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A wise, intimate and revealing tale told by a regular guy.
Dare I be bold enough to review a book on writing, penned by the modern master of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction and
fantasy?
Why the hell not?
On Writing is not new book. In fact it was published over 13 years ago. Whether itís fiction or non-fiction, the thing about great writing is that it transcends time.
I had wanted to read Kingís most notable diversion from fiction for a number of years now. And, unlike my experience with reading some of his other books, I suspected that after reading it I would be able to sleep without having to leave the lights on.
Why I hadnít read it before now, I canít tell you. But, I am glad I finally did. If youíre a writer and havenít yet, I urge you to read it. And, donít wait.
This book affected me. It challenged how I looked at writing and writers. It encouraged me to adopt the daily writing habit again. It was the personal insight from the man behind the massive imagination that added a layer of authenticity and intimacy that served as the foundation that delivered a truly compelling read.
Before leaving for a recent trip to Canada I purchased On Writing through Audible, downloaded it to my iPhone and thought Iíd begin listening to it on the 15 hour plane ride, but instead I had an idea for a Novella that filled much of the time.
While in Toronto, I was living my own author adventures and during those whirlwind few weeks I thought about starting it, but ended up being more a case of, ĎStephen, I know youíre there, closer than youíve ever been, but itís just not the right time. Soon, I promise.Ē
I returned home and settled back in to my Aussie routine. One day last week I left to take Buzz on our usual neighbourhood jaunt and instead of automatically tapping the podcast icon, I chose the Audible one instead. That was the day I began reading, (actually listening to) Kingís Memoir of the Craft.
Four walks and five days later I was finished.
As with any book I truly enjoy, my emotions become mixed about three quarters of the way through. As I get closer and closer to the end, I get sadder and sadder that its conclusion as imminent.
I did not want On Writing to end.
To be frank the book is not what I expected. It was better, way better - better but different. Iíve had time to let my reactions form over the past few days so that I could distill them down to their lasting impressions. I needed to define what it was that about Stephenís book that resonated so powerfully with me.
I think it was this:
1. Listening to, rather than reading, this book was a serendipitous gift. Hearing Kingís words being read by him, rather than from my own voice chirping away in my head, added a layer of authenticity, personality and raw connection that would not have existed for me, had it been my voice reading it (Audible thereís a USP for you to exploit.)
2. It was enlightening hearing the stories of Stephenís childhood, of his hardworking and devoted Mother, his brainiac brother with the big ideas, his parade of shocking sitters, his initial attempts at writing, his influences, his supporters. These all gave glimpses into Stephenís formative years. They provided an insight into the man behind the imagination and perhaps some understanding as to where and how some of the darker bits of it were formed. The depth of the memoir portion of the book was a welcome surprise that leant credibility to the rest.
3. He both shows and tells much about the fundamental importance of focusing on the story. He suggests that you might be best not to get too caught up in plot lines, imagery, theme, character development, You may not want to immerse yourself in all the writing accouterments, but to focus first and foremost on the story. What is it you want to say and to whom? And even if youíre not sure about all of it, start with the bits you are sure about. Stephen says that story is a fossil you find in the ground and you gradually dig it out slowly
 

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When growing up he shared many accounts that give thoughtful insight into age groups. These everyday life events could possibly be understood by any number of families. More recently within his immediate family circle there are encouraging life successes also. These successes build a progressive direction in writing while enjoying family life.
Importantly he listens to others applying this to dialogue and character building in fiction. Fictional characters are not drawn directly from real life. His instruction is well explained for good storytelling, covering skills for the aspects of writing.
Many examples with further reading are given in his outstanding book. I learned enlightening connections in this well written book and highly recommend it.
 

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Simply put, this is one of the best explorations of the art. Stephen King blends memoir with instruction perfectly, in a way that is always engaging.

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Well renown fictional writer talks about his childhood and his take on writing.
I found it entertaining. Stephen is anal when it comes to the tools required for his work. His love for the craft
is obvious. This is a person who didn't stop writing despite the numerous rejection letters he received. I would not have lasted if I was in his shoes.
He almost did not finish writing the book due to an accident that left him literally in pieces. It's a miracle that the doctors were able to put him back together.
I learnt a few things from this memoir. I now look forward to actually reading one of his books.
 

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As an aspiring novelist, this book was extremely inspiring. Gives a very clear and realistic picture of what other aspiring authors can look forward to encountering on their road to being published.

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Just as riveting as the majority of his fiction books. The two I personally found hard to read are the only two he admits to planning for with an outline and notes, etc. The rest were "found" as he wrote from a what-if statement that came to mind or a possible situation that sounded intriguing. I agree, a "keeper" as another reviewer said. 

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Inspirational, entertaining, easy to read and very funny.
Would have never thought to read this book were it not for Google books.
I will get the full copy and revise my review. Based on the preview, I recommend it.
Currently looking to start writing and have been reading about the craft, this one is a winner.
Certainly made me laugh my head off, one thing I really needed today, and quite an unexpected surprise to get such hilarity from Stephen King.
 

Review: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

User Review  - Liam - Goodreads

What a masterpiece. This book was surprising to me in two ways. The first was how clearly Stephen King understands what makes writing good. I knew he knew how to write well, but I wasn't expecting ... Read full review

Review: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

User Review  - Lsnarski - Goodreads

Read all of memoir section in sixth grade, grazed in writing section. From writing section, I got the idea of a toolbox, secret windows, and details building up ideas into stories. Recommended Struck and White. Read full review

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