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On Writing

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King, published in 2000, is a memoir of the prolific author's experiences as a writer, and also serves as a guide book for those who choose to enter the craft. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly listed On Writing 21st on their list of The New Classics: Books The 100 best reads from 1983 to 2008, making it King's only entry.[1] On July 13, 2010, Scribner published a 10th Anniversary edition of the book (ISBN 978-1-4391-9363-1), featuring an updated reading list from Stephen King.



The first section of On Writing is an Autobiography mainly about King s early exposure to writing, and his childhood attempts at writing. King talks about his early attempts to get published, and his first novel Carrie. King also talks about his fame as a writer, and what it took to get there. This includes his relationship with his wife, the death of his mother and his history of drug and alcohol abuse.

The second section is practical advice on writing, including tips on grammar and ideas about developing plot and character. King himself describes it as a guide for how "a competent writer can become a good one." This includes his beliefs that a writer should edit out unnecessary details and avoid the use of unnecessary adverbs. He also uses quotes from other books and authors to illustrate his points.

The third section is also autobiographical, in which he discusses the 1999 automobile accident in which King was struck by a vehicle while walking down an isolated country road. He describes serious injuries, his painful recovery and his struggle to start writing again.

King includes part of a rough draft and an edited draft of his own story entitled "1408".

In the United Kingdom paperback version, a short story by Garret Adams entitled "Jumper" was included at the end of the book, which was the winner of the On Writing competition.



Horror Guild: Nonfiction Award 2001 Horror Writers Association: Bram Stoker Nonfiction Award 2000 International Horror Guild: Nonfiction Award 2000 Locus: Nonfiction Award 2001

Critical and Popular Reception

Ginny Wiehardt, former Guide says, There are better-written books on writing, but his insights are always worth reading.

Elsa Neal from BellaOnline says, Stephen King admits that his memory is flawed and limited, probably due to his addiction to alcohol and drugs in the first half of his career ( he doesn t remember writing much of Cujo). I wish he d remember more of his early life, because the memoir section of this book is fascinating, and far too short .

"Long live the King" hailed "Entertainment Weekly" upon the publication of Stephen King's "On Writing." Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King's advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, "On Writing" will empower and entertain everyone who reads it fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

A one-of-a-kind classic The Wall Street Journal

The best book on writing. Ever. The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Pulitzer Prize winning film critic Roger Ebert commented on the book in his review for the movie Secret Window, which was based on a King novella: "A lot of people were outraged that he [King] was honored at the National Book Awards, as if a popular writer could not be taken seriously. But after finding that his book On Writing had more useful and observant things to say about the craft than any book since Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, I have gotten over my own snobbery."[2]

Edward Bryant characterized On Writing as "graceful and lucid, diverting and useful," saying "When King addresses the processes of writing directly, he does so with clarity."[3]

  • On Writing also won some awards, the Bram Stoker Award for Best Non-fiction (2000), the Locus Award for Best Non-fiction (2001), and the Puddly Award for Writing (2001). [4]


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