Review of On Writing

This week, I’m reviewing Stephen King‘s book, On Writing291 pages filled with his thoughts about writing, examples of both good and bad writing, and a short memoir.

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“Writing did not save my life … but it has continued to do what it has always done: it makes my life a brighter and more pleasant place.”

Synopsis:

This book is divided into five major sections with three short forwards and three sections labeled “And Furthermore.” The first section, called “C.V.” is a brief memoir and gives the reader a pretty good understanding of what made him a writer. This was perhaps the most intriguing section because I really liked learning about his life. The second section “What Writing Is” explains how King believes that writing is like telepathy. In section three, “Toolbox,” King tells young writers how to build their toolbox, with vocabulary and grammar, for instance. Section four, perhaps the longest, “On Writing,” tells the reader everything King knows about writing. The last section, “On Living: A Postscript,” is about King’s accident in 1999.

Ideas that will help me with my writing:

King says that writing a story is like escalating a fossil and I think this will help me get away from my need to plan everything and, instead, just see what the fossil looks like. King also writes about writing stories that are just “what if” questions. I want to take this idea and use it to help me write. I think this will help with my writing because I’ll focus less on plot and more on characters and setting and how that shapes the story. I’m working on getting all of my work into active voice, like King says and also on avoiding adverbs especially in attributions.

My overall impression:

Overall, I really liked this book and I think that King’s comparison between a raw story and a fossil has definitely helped me in the way I view fiction.

“Try any goddam thing you like, no matter how boringly normal or outrageous. If it works, fine. If it doesn’t, toss it. Toss it even if you love it. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch once said, ‘Murder your darlings,’ and he was right.”

I love this quote because I feel like experimenting in writing can be difficult but if you do it without worrying whether or not it’ll work, you can have more fun with it.

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One thought on “Review of On Writing

  1. Great review! I enjoyed reading this book also. I felt like I was having a conversation with the King, not just reading a book on writing. I agree with the parts you liked, I also liked them about excavating the fossil and using “what if” prompts.

    Like

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