On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King was a wonderful blend of memoir and lessons about writing fiction. I am a huge Stephen King fan, so I really enjoyed learning about his life and his process!
I can’t believe it took me so long to give this one a read! If you’ve been putting it off as well, I highly recommend moving it closer to the top of your TBR list!
Let’s dive in!
My Thoughts on On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
As this is Stephen King, I’m not going to focus on the writing style for long. I will simply say that I really enjoyed how this book was organized; it was sectioned into various chunks, but it all flowed so well and King tied everything together wonderfully. I loved that he added in a few callbacks to something that he had written about earlier in the book, this was such a fun touch!
The first chunk of the book was about his life, centering mainly on his childhood and teen years before moving on to his marriage and early career. This helped to show the reader what his life was like and how his childhood shaped him as a writer. This was the most interesting section to me because I really enjoy learning more about individuals that I am a huge fan of, especially when they are the ones writing their story!
The What Writing Is chapter was awesome! I love how he painted a picture and then broke it down and relayed that to writing and telepathy. This chapter also housed one of my favorite quotes of all time:
Next up was the section called “Toolbox” where he begins with a wonderful story about childhood and a toolbox and then relates that to basic writing skills, or your tools, and explains these tools a bit.
Then we get into the section with the lessons about writing called “On Writing.” This section was slightly dry to me, simply because I am not a fiction writer so some of the tips and tricks didn’t really stand out for me. That being said, I still found it really interesting to read and I loved learning more about the craft! I will definitely be using a few things that I learned when an author sends me an draft of their book and asks for feedback. I also need to make use of a few lessons that I learned in my blog posts!
The book then begins to wind down with a section called “On Living: A Postscript.” This section was very difficult to read as it discusses King’s accident in detail. It was so heartbreaking to learn more about the van that hit him. I remember when this happened. As a Mainer, this was all over the news so I was aware of the details, but hearing it straight from him was so powerful.
This last section ends on a wonderful note, but it’s certainly not a section for the squeamish.
A few additional notes:
King doesn’t remember setting Cujo, as it was during his drug and alcohol stage. I thought this was a rumor, but turns out it is true! Poor guy, I’m glad he got out of that phase!
Throughout the book, I adored how much he talked about his wife, Tabitha! It was so heartwarming to read about their support of one another.
My Favorite Passages from On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough.
Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.
… books are a uniquely portable magic.
If I have to spend time in purgatory before going to one place or the other, I guess I’ll be all right as long as there’s a lending library…
I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops.
If there’s no joy in it, it’s just no good.
Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.
… and one of the cardinal rules of good fiction is never tell us a thing if you can show us…
And I believe that most people smart enough to read a novel are also tactful enough to find a gentler mode of expression than “This sucks.”
The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.
My Final Thoughts on On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
If you are a writer of fiction, I highly recommend this one! There are so many wonderful lessons included that are written in such an interesting way.
If you’re simply a reader, I also highly recommend this one! I am not a fiction writer, but I still loved learning more about the craft! And of course, the section that was mainly memoir was so interesting!
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Thanks for reading!
Have you read any books on writing? If so, what was your favorite?