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On Writing - Stephen King
Member Name: nikkisly
On Writing - Stephen King
Date: 16/11/00, updated on 16/11/00 (169 review reads)
Advantages: An insight into the mind of a 'genius'?
Disadvantages: Would probably have been better as two books
The book starts with a series of anecdotal tales from King's childhood - a time of his life which he admits is rather hazy in his memory. We learn about his first attempts at writing when confined to bed with a childhood illness. He tells of the first money he made from writing ( a quarter from his mother) and, as he progresses through childhood to his teenage years, the ever growing pile of rejection slips he received.
The tale continues through the early years of his marriage and the writing of his first successful book 'Carrie'. It progresses through his problems with alcoholism to the last chapter, which is a detailed account of the car accident in June 1999 which so nearly cost him his life.
Interspersed with the autobiographical details are tips on writing, revising the written work and getting published. The content is varied - from developing vocabulary, to how to ensure that your work is grammatically correct, to how to describe the mechanics of sex and defecation whilst avoiding profanity. Scattered throughout are quotes and short passages from other books which King admires.
King tells his readers that one of the best ways to write is to read extensively - to gain an appreciation of exactly what does and doesn't work. He provides a list of books at the end of "On Writing" which he feels are entertaining and worthwhile.
This book is unmistakenly 'Stephen King'. It's written in his usual detailed, evocative style and, as such, should be of interest to King fans. Yet it is fair to say that one would need to be a true King fan to enjoy this book.
The biographical details are riveting, particularly as they come ' straight from the hors
es mouth'. As usual, King makes even the most minor events - such as a description of his Uncle Oren's toolbox - sound relevant and entertaining. The masterclass on writing is interesting too. Yet, at the same time, the reader feels as though he/she is being moulded towards writing in the distinctive Stephen King 'style'.Perhaps in view of King's status as a multi-millionaire and one of the best - if not the best - selling authors of all time, this is no bad thing. But somehow,the advice given comes over as presumptuous and - dare I say it - slightly arrogant.
There is plenty to enjoy about this book. It is fascinating to know what goes on in the mind of such a successful writer. To learn how he actually goes about his profession and what inspires him. The book is even extremely humourous in places - although personally I would have liked the humour to be slightly more self depreciating than it is. Somehow, the book falls between two stools. There is not enough autobiographical content to make it a good autobiography, but too much to make it of use to an aspiring writer.
The title? Well, at the end of the book is a short story writing competition. The prize for the best short story (maximum 3000 words) will be a meeting with the author himself,plus publication of the winning entry in the paperback edition of 'On Writing' to be published in summer 2001. Best get writing, fellow King-clones - the closing date for entries is December 31st.
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