Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Books: On Writing

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
By Stephen King
Copyright 2000
Narrated by Stephen King
8 hours audio cassette

This book, part memoir and part how-to, details Stephen King's life. He goes into great detail about his childhood at the first part of the book, and talks about writing later on.

First, let me say that, while I have read a number of Stephen King's books (Carrie, Salem's Lot, Misery, and started Cujo but couldn't finish it), and watched several of his movies (The Shining, The Green Mile) I do not consider myself a fan. I liked horror up until my teenage years, and then I dispensed with it.

However, that doesn't mean I dislike the writing. Disliking content is entirely different matter. It just means I have a touchy tummy.

King reveals in the memoir part that he had a problem with drugs and alcohol. I was rather disappointed to learn this, though not surprised. That kind of thing seems to follow writers.

Another thing that struck me about the book was that he wrote it for men. I don't think he intended to do that; I think he thought he was writing just for writers, but ultimately, he was writing for males. Women simply can't shrug off the kid's soccer practice because they want to write.

Phyllis Whitney, in her book Guide to Fiction Writing, said all writer's need a wife. And if you're the wife, well, you have to do the laundry.

Nor did he offer any silver bullets for writing or writers. All of the advice I'd heard before.

He advocated ridding your work of adverbs, using simile and metaphor, and writing first drafts with the door closed, which means, without worrying about what anyone else on the planet thinks about the work you're putting out.

The main thing to do is write. He emphasized that. And then submit it after you find out where it fits.

This is a good book. I personally would have liked a little more on the writing and a little less on Stephen King, particularly his early years, but it is always interesting to hear how writer's work and how they came to do what they do.

I do wonder how he might update it to reflect the broader use of the internet, e-books, and other changes in the industry.

You can find a section of some quotes for the book here.

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