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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Writer Writes

On Writing

by Stephen King

genre: instructional/memoir

Many authors put out books about writing. Most of them fall into two categories: 1) the book about getting started or getting out of writer's block and 2) the book with exercises in every chapter to teach you writing skills. This book falls into neither category. Half memoir, half writing instruction, Stephen King's voice comes growling through with nuggets of wisdom and almost grumpy admonitions. And every word rings true.

I have only read Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King before picking up this book. I now plan to read at least four of his books. He impressed me quite a bit with his no nonsense style and forthright language. He's funny, sarcastic and a little wacky too. But most of all, he's successful and there's a reason for it. I think you'll find a lot of that reason laced throughout these pages. He's got gumption and talent. Those two things are necessary in a writing world from what I've been told. A lot of great writer's never get their names known because despite their talent, they're afraid of rejection. Without facing that fear, no writer will ever get published, let alone have the discipline to sit down and write every day. Beyond those two qualifications, he digs deeper into elements of writing and the importance of understanding the mechanics of language. He highlights proper presentation when selling yourself or your work to publishers, magazines and ultimately agents. He gives practical advice from the experiences he's lived. And nothing could be more valuable than that, given the source.

Some quotes I loved:

"You must not come lightly to the blank's writing damn it, not washing the car or putting on eyeliner. If you can take it seriously, we can do business."

"The adverb is not your friend...I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops."

Lastly he tells the account of being hit by a van while out on one of his daily walks and how that affected him as a person and a writer. It moved me considerably. Not having known much more than the titles published by Mr. King, I found this book a fun discovery of a writer I now admire.

Even if you're not interested in being a writer, this book is an enjoyable read. At least the first half, the memoir part, I believe appeals to anyone. The sections on writing might not be your cup of tea, and yet, his style and humor creeping out on every page make it more than just instructions on writing.


Anonymous said...

I can't even think of where to start with a comment. I LOVE Stephen King, even his bad or not so good stuff. I always feel as though he is right inside my head and I am right inside his characters' heads.

When you start reading, I would love to discuss.

Maggie said...

De, I look forward to talking about it. Till now I've avoided Stephen King because I'm a fraidy cat. I might end up in nightmare city, but I figure I better give it a try.

jaded said...

He's extremely talented, and like De said very successful at getting inside the reader's head. I'm not an avid reader of the spooky genre, but he holds my attention well.