On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
3 words: sharp, encouraging, spare
So let’s just start with this: Stephen King scares the living daylights out of me.
When my book club chose to read The Shining, I got 3 tracks into disc 1 of the audiobook, sensed looming menace and unease, and bailed.
But I’ve been hearing about his book On Writing for years (it keeps showing up on lists of the best books about writing), and it seemed safe enough.
And so it was.
Until that very last section, in which King writes about the car that hit him. And while it’s not horror, it’s horrifying. He’s so matter of fact about it, which makes it all the more chilling.
So I got to experience some King fear factor after all.
But let’s talk about the bulk of the book, which consists of two parts:
- a brief autobiography of his development as a writer
- a handbook on the art of writing
The thing that blew me away was the strength of King’s writing. Of course, dude is writing a handbook about how to write well, so he darn well better have some game. But I still found myself surprised at his sentences and his paragraphs: fresh and succinct and perfectly formed.
He discusses some of the mechanics of writing (he hates adverbs, which kinda makes me adore him), but he also addresses how to actually be a writer. Which, of course, is by writing. Throughout the book, he’s encouraging, without ever being coddling.
And this leads us to my next surprise: Stephen King seems like a genuinely nice person. And he’s a man who loves — and likes — his wife. The way he writes about her… it made me happy that they’d found one another.
Give this book a whirl if you like… workplace narratives, books about books, a peek behind the curtain, and a zippy writing style
OK, your turn. What’s your take on Stephen King?