I have just finished reading On Writing by Stephen King and I have to say that this book is a must read! It is part biography, part collection of tips for the aspiring writer. Being a Stephen King fan myself I was delighted when I was given his book for Christmas! King talks about his initial aspirations to write, and his journey which has shaped him to become a better writer: from being farted on by his crazy babysitter to almost dying after being hit by a van, King goes into detail in the last few chapters of the book of his horrific accident back in June 1999 to which all he could think about was finishing his half written book, On Writing. As a young boy King ignored his fears of rejection by the publication world and sent off his short horror stories to magazines with optimism, and encourages his readers to do the same.
The first section of On Writing is where he talks of his life story, sharing little snippets of personal and private details. The second section talks about the tools needed for writing, such as vocabulary and good grammar and the use of description and plot. He then goes onto give tips about writing (some are pretty obvious- yet needed to be reinstated) and he shares some brilliant advice for writers, both for the beginner and those who are already learning their craft.
One of the many tips he shares with the reader, is that if you don’t have time to read then you don’t have time to write. This is true, as reading is at the core of writing. Another piece of advice King gives is that when you sit down to write the first draft, write it with the door closed, keeping the world locked out, to get the story down. When you revisit it for a second draft, only then must you write with the door open, inviting your readers in and therefore be thinking of the readers response and make amendments.
Here are some quotes taken from On Writing:
“If I tell you that Carrie White is a high school outcast with a bad complexion and a fashion-victim wardrobe, I think you can do the rest, can’t you? I don’t need to give you a pimple-by-pimple, skirt-by-skirt rundown. We all remember one or more high losers, after all; if I describe mine, it freezes out yours, and I lose a little bit of the bond of understanding I want to forge between us. Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”
“The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting. Stick to the parts that are, and don’t get carried away with the rest.”
King has shared his tips and secrets of the writing trade in his work, On Writing and is a must read for both writers and readers. I really enjoyed this book and give it 10/10!