Sunday, June 5, 2011

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

(image courtesy: here)

On Writing by Stephen King is actually two books. The first is a vivid description of his childhood and what got him into writing: his autobiography of sorts. In the second part he tells us what, how and how much to write.
The title of the book might fool you into thinking this is "How To" book. It's not. It's a memoir. Even if it were, this book is the most refreshingly honest "How To" book I have ever read.

The first part of the novel is as entertaining as an autobiography can get. I don't particularly like reading autobiographies. What King has written, is a series of anecdotes loosely stringed together. You know where he grew up, you know which schools he went to, you know he went through some pretty bad times(who doesn't?); but you know all that through a bunch of hilarious exploits! I found the narration in the first part of the book rather spectacular!

In the next part of the book, King takes a broad approach to writing. He doesn't give you a list of seven things you shouldn't do - with no further explanation given. No. He writes about his experiences with writing. He talks about the process, not the results. He keeps the book very practical; he tells incidents that help you give that underlying advice to yourself, rather than a numbered list of things to do. Those never work, this will. He tells us how he wrote the book Carrie or The Stand. He writes with much ease about his shortcomings as well. King doesn't just write about himself - he also tells us about other authors. There is no "sit in a quiet place" and "write five pages a day" here. If that's what you're looking for, you'll be disappointed.

I can list down the things he mentions. Writing paragraphs, giving descriptions, adverbs and the passive voice (which happen to be his pet peeves!!) But I think it's best to read the entire book! I would recommend it to anyone who loves to read and write. It's awesome!

6 comments:

Harish said...

Stephen King looks like this...! After reading his novels, this was not the face that came to my mind... :) thanks for the review, seems a must read...

Priya said...

Lol!! Maybe, but I liked this pic!!! Yes, it's a great book!

Best O' Books said...

Oh, he is older than that now! He was down at his summer house in FL on the news about something; he aged quite rapidly after his accident years ago, but hey the looks don't matter if the imagination was not affected :) I read this book years ago; I found it a refreshing take on writing. He must be doing something right after all the years and all his success! Rae
http://thebestobooks.blogspot.com

Priya said...

Yah, I know it's an old pic, but it's good, don't you think? I read the book too late, that's for sure!! Loved it, though! And thanks for stopping by :)

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

I really need to read that :)

Priya said...

You should! :)

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