Book Review: "On Writing" by Stephen King

I'm sad to admit that this review is the first novel that I have read and reviewed for this blog in months and that it took me a few of those months just to finish "On Writing." I assure you, that fact has nothing to do with the quality of King's nonfiction work and everything to do with me slacking on my reading. Nonetheless, I am now done and have learned a few things about writing, but more about Stephen King.

The first part of "On Writing" is a mish mash of anecdotes from Mr. King's childhood, school years, early romance with Mrs. King, early marriage and early writing career. Some of you aspiring writers may read some of this and think, "Oh, crap! I didn't run a hodgepodge newspaper with my brother out of my mother's basement when I was a kid. I still had not thought of becoming a writer yet." Don't worry about it. I doubt Stephen King gave us a window into his life so we could compare him to ourselves. Besides, we can't all be Kings. There can be only one. (Yeah, I went there.)

After these characteristically brilliant disguised as blue-collar passages, Stephen King gets down to the writing part of "On Writing." His advice is rarely technical. You will only see a few words of advice about grammar. Apparently, Stephen King hates the passive voice. What you will see is advice about the meat and potatoes of your writing. He talks about the story. In short, he tells the reader to figure out what they are saying and say it. He says to be honest. Take these pearls of wisdom. They come from, in my opinion, the biggest oyster in the sea. Oh, and this is not a book about technical writing. Stephen King is not going to tell you how to go about writing a vacuum cleaner manual. You're on your own there.

Throughout the writing advice and beyond, Stephen King continues to add anecdotes about his life and career. He also adds bits that he has heard from other authors and even moviemakers. Then things get tough for Stevie (as he often refers to himself, but I only jokingly dare to refer to him). You see, while he was writing "On Writing," he was struck by a man driving a Dodge van and quite nearly died. He speaks about this harrowing experience near the end of the novel. Thankfully, he lived to write another day. Yes, I'm selfish, I know.

So, whether you are a freak that wants to read about someone's hardships, an aspiring writer or just a fan of Stephen King, get it, read it and let others borrow it. Now I'm off to read "The Wind Through the Keyhole" and then the list of books King suggested at the end of "On Writing." Get ready for more reviews!

Shelly Barclay

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