Friday, October 7, 2011

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

Title: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Author: Stephen King
Enjoyment Rating: 9/10
Referral: Someone in my fiction seminar last winter mentioned it
Source: Purchased from Amazon
Books I've read this year: 123

I've read quite a few books on the craft of writing since starting the MFA program (and I have quite a few more to read in order to make the books I've listed on my prospectus an honest reflection of books I've actually read). In general, I don't like these books. Yeah, I've gotten a few good tips from them, but they basically say the same things-- use fewer adjectives, avoid adverbs entirely, trust yourself, write regularly, blah, blah, blah.

Stephen King says all these things, but he couches the advice in a memoir of his writing life, so instead of feeling like a book I was reading for work, this felt like a book I was reading for pure enjoyment. The funny thing is that I am not a Stephen King fan. In fact, this is the first Stephen King book I've ever read. But after reading it, I feel like I know and trust him as a writer and as a person. He gives great, practical advice, talks about his own strengths, shortcomings, and neuroses as a writer, and isn't afraid to poke fun at himself. I also feel like I learned some things about writing-- particularly about the discipline King puts in at his writing desk (he writes at least 2000 words EVERY day) and about what tasks he tackles in a first draft and what he tackles in a second draft (symbolism, for example, is a second draft element in a SK novel).

1 comment:

Blue said...

I haven't read ANY books on the craft of writing...which is abundantly evident when I read my WIP, but I do read a number of blogs about writing by authors I'm familiar with, and they have been helpful in me realizing some of the things I didn't innately know. On the one hand I feel frustrated at my lack of raw talent, but I'm trying to not let that prevent me from just getting the rough draft out. Based on your review, I think I'll request this one by SK...he's not my kind of author (horror=SO not my thing!) but I liked what you said, and genre aside, I've been aware of him as a word craftsman and had respect for him based on who he is and his work ethics. Thanks for the recommendation!