Review: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I bought this book during YALC after a weekend of enthusiastic recommendations. The format of the book itself is a little strange – the first part documents how Stephen King became a writer, but it’s not quite an autobiography – it flits from scene to scene, year to year, only stopping to comment on a particularly important event. The second part of the book is a collection of tips for the aspiring writer. The third part of the book returns to autobiography, this time concerning the events that occurred during the writing of this book – that is, the car accident King was involved in in 1999.

I haven’t read any Stephen King before, but his work has become part of popular culture – his novels are incredibly popular, and have also been turned into some of the best films of our time – Carrie, The Shawshank Redemption andThe Shining to name a few. My knowledge of King’s works mostly comes from an episode of Family Guy – Three Kings, Season 7, episode 15 – which parodies three of King’s stories – Stand by Me, Misery and The Shawshank Redemption.

King regularly refers to his own works – surprise, surprise – throughout the book, so an acquaintance with his novels wouldn’t go amiss before diving into this book – but don’t despair. This is an inspiring and amusing book even without knowing his books in any detail.

King also uses the book to address the questions he most frequently gets asked at signings and book tours – and there’s a handy reading list at the back of King’s favourite novels, including one dedicated to the 21st century.

This is not a stiff non-fiction ‘How to write’ book, more of a gentle conversation with King himself as he gives advice and recalls tales of yesteryear.

A lot of the advice given here by King has been reiterated by authors again and again – I recognised a lot of the tips as ones authors themselves gave during YALC. I’d say that’s a pretty good indication that it’s good advice – and i’m almost certain i’ll be using it whilst writing my own stuff.

This is a book I’d certainly recommend for the aspiring writer, and/or fans of Stephen King. It’s clever, concise, and interesting, and a must-read for anyone thinking of writing their own fiction.

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