K is for… King – On Writing (Book) #AtoZChallenge

K is for… King – On Writing (Book)


If I recall correctly I think this book was one of the first I bought about writing (it didn’t stop there!). I think it must have been around the time that I started studying creative writing with the Open University (or ‘taking it seriously’).

Anyhoo the book goes like this:
Two humorously contrasting quotes
Followed by three forwards
C.V (The memoir/autobiography bit)
A couple of pages called What Writing Is …Telepathy
Toolbox (On vocabulary, grammar, style,
On Writing (the bit about writing)
On Living: A Postscript (About his accident and recovery)
Furthermore, Part 1: Door Shut, Door Open (an insight into editing)
Furthermore, Part 2: A Booklist (Stephen’s Goodreads bookshelf ;o) – including the first three Harry Potters [this was published in 2000]
Finally it ends with the winning entry of a short story competition – Jumper by Garrett Addams.

What writing is – Telepathy. This relates back to the discussion on the I post of writers seemingly getting into our heads.

Stephen King’s Prime Rule is Write a Lot and Read a Lot – I’m trying – have been succeeding more with the latter than the former at the moment but it’s all food and nourishment.

Now it is a long time since I read this book but I remember it being good. I need to read it again, I want to after skimming for the purposes of writing this. It isn’t laid out like a how to guide (according to the man himself p.xiii – ‘most books about writing are filled with bullshit.’), there is no index to help you find the section on writing dialogue or which tense to use. It is, as the subtitle says ‘A memoir on the craft.’ It reads like a story, it engages for the full duration then – that is what I hope to do with my thesis.

After his accident Stephen didn’t want to go back to work – he thought it would be too painful. His wife helped him. He ends the postscript section with this quote (p327) –
‘Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So Drink.
Drink and be filled up.’

Stephen suggests that why most books on writing are bullshit is because most writers don’t understand what they do – do you agree?

Posted on April 12, 2013, in April A-Z Challenge, Book Reviews, OT/Lecturing/PhD Reviews, PhD and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I understand the sentiment behind King’s thought, but there are some useful writing books out there. I must say, though, that I think ON WRITING is hands-down the best book on the subject. I think every writer should own this book, and keep it handy. I’ve read it at least three or four times, and I’ve made it a tradition now to read it at the beginning of every year to help motivate me for the year.

    • Wow that’s dedication Colin. What other books would you recommend?

      • Noah Lukeman’s books are good (I’ve read THE FIRST FIVE PAGES, A DASH OF STYLE, and THE PLOT THICKENS). Also Monica Wood’s book, DESCRIPTION–I found her approach to “show don’t tell” balanced and refreshing. Those are some others I would consider worthy of your attention.

      • Uh oh, I shouldn’t have asked, I don’t have any of those! Thanks

  2. Ooh that’s definitely on my list. I’ve been working my way through John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction, which is a pretty easy read and has good exercises at the end. Seems like the King book is one to actually purchase in hard copy rather than Kindle, eh?

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