- Book: On Writing
- Author: Stephen King
- Pages: 291
Stephen King’s prowess as a writer is unquestionable. He has written some of the greatest books of our time, which were even adapted into some of the greatest films of all time (as I write this, the adaptation of his story Rita Hayworth and Shawkshank Redemption is number one on the iMDb top 250 list). His ability to tell a story is certainly something special, and On Writing allows readers to get a glimpse at how his works come to be. More importantly than that, King gives great advice to aspiring writers. Although a small amount of his advice could only be applicable to a few people, there is one thing On Writing makes clear that is so important:
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.” (King 145)
The most effective tool King uses in this book is empathy. Sure, he could have only written about the nitty gritty process of sitting down, typing for hours, and double checking for comma splices, but the entire first half of On Writing is more of an autobiography than it is a book on how to write. That isn’t to say there is no useful tips on writing though, they are sprinkled throughout in ways the reader can easily get a hold of. The beginning of the book does an excellent job at grabbing the reader, and uses this attention to talk about the less interesting parts of the craft. However, King very briefly discusses things like adverbs and vocabulary; the book very quickly swings right back into things like desk space and how to properly focus. Only Stephen King could end a book about writing with a gripping and suspenseful story of when he was hit by a van. On Writing is probably the only book about writing that had me on the edge of my seat at the end (I swear this story is true: I was reading the end of the book on the bus and missed my stop because I was so engrossed in it). I believe that Stephen King’s methods of keeping the reader involved with the book are its biggest success, and what allowed for the book to be so effective.
Overall, this book definitely will have a positive impact on my writing. I have no doubts about that. I started a short story before reading it, then went back and proofread after I completed On Writing. I instantly saw many places I could improve, yet not lose my style of writing. Because this book was intended to have writers appreciate the craft and better themselves in their writing, it is fair to say On Writing hit its marks. I feel as though my writing improved significantly, but more importantly I have a newfound appreciation for the art of writing.
Word Count: 491