Friday Favorites: On Writing

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Yes, it's Stephen King, but it's not what you'd expect. It's a nonfiction book King wrote about his personal experience with becoming a author and tips for other writers. Told by a master storyteller the book is fascinating. With such simple subject matter it could have been dry and boring and coming from a successful author, the advice could feel condescending. But King has the ability to put the reader at ease. You instantly feel comfortable, like you're chatting with a friend.

King mixes his personal stories in with the advice and is candid about his struggles and failures. He allows the reader to see the negative aspects of being an author along with the positive. When he discusses how to write he covers dozens of topics. He talks about the importance of showing a reader vs. telling them. He also encourages writers to leave their book alone for a while when they finish it, so they can gain some distance and perspective.

"The most important things to remember about a back story to remember are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn't very interesting. Stick to the parts that are and don't get carried away with the rest."

When I read this book I hadn't read anything else by King. He talks in detail about a lot of his books, referencing characters and plots frequently, so I'm sure I would have enjoyed it even more if I'd read his work. But my point is that you can absolutely enjoy it with out being a King fan.

"Someone once write that all novels are really letters aimed at one person."

10 comments:

Hannah Stoneham said...

Sounds interesting - I have always avoided his novels I must admit, but I suspect that as a writer I need all the advice I can get!

Tiina said...

I really should read this. King's novels on the other hand are all too scary for me. I stopped reading them after Pet Semetary, which was no doubt the scariest book I've ever read or will ever read.

Greetings,
Tiina

Sandra said...

I'm no King fan but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book too. Very insightful and informative, whether you're interested in writing or not. Glad you brought it to people's attention, it deserves it.

Avid Reader said...

I actually just read my first King novel (Carrie) last month. I've read some of his short stories, but his novels freak me out. Maybe I'll be brave enough to try more later, but right now I can only handle small doses or nonfiction. I loved Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redmption. That story (and movie) is amazing.

celi.a said...

I like that last quote. It sounds like a good way to approach writing a book. I haven't read any Stephen King, either. Nice choice!

If you want, you can check out my pick this week here.

Jenners said...

I'm with you 100% on this one!!! It is on my list of one of the best books on writing I've ever read. I think King is underrated and doesn't get his due. I'm always trying to convince others that, even if you don't like his books, this is well worth reading.

Avid Reader said...

Thanks Jenners! If people don't like King it's hard to convince them that this is a great book, but it's filled with such great advice.

Carl V. said...

Read this many years back and LOVED it. I had read a half dozen King novels in my teen years and really enjoyed them, then hadn't read anything until this came out. It is both a fantastic book on the craft of writing and an excellent autobiography of King. I suspect that even non-fans would appreciate and enjoy this one.

Teacher/Learner said...

Have just started reading this. I admit to being a huge King fan and his scariest book, IMO, is either Carrie, The Shining, or a short story called The Breathing Method from an amazing collection called Different Seasons with the Shawshank story, Apt Pupil, and The Body (adapted into the movie Stand By Me).

Avid Reader said...

Teacher - Different Seasons is my favorite of his books. I read it years ago. Shawshank and The Body were my favorites, but The Breathing Method and Apt Pupil were equally creepy.