Like most dedicated readers, you’ve likely wondered what motivates your favorite authors. If Stephen King happens to be one of your faves, you’re in for a real treat. In On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (10th Anniversary Edition), King chronicles the experiences (both hilarious and heartbreaking) that shaped him as a writer. He also reveals the inspiration behind some of his most popular books; think Carrie and The Shining. Not a fan of King’s books? Not to worry, there’s still something worth your while in his memoir: solid, no-nonsense writing advice.
Written with his trademark sarcastic wit, King’s thoughts on a range of topics might offend some readers, and I imagine he wouldn’t have it any other way. But I would argue it’s because of King’s tone that we should feel most encouraged by this book. King has been where we are now—struggling through poverty and rejection in the process—and he tells it like it is. He knows what he’s talking about and he’s saving you the trouble of having to learn some of it firsthand.
In addition to his entertaining stories and realistic encouragement, King offers new writers practical advice on everything from early drafts to manuscript submission. Though the submission advice may be a bit outdated in this electronic age, his low-tech approach to revision and editing is refreshingly old school. He even includes edited fiction and nonfiction writing samples so we can see his process in action. King also offers a guided writing exercise for readers who are up to the challenge.
King leaves us with the notion that, by employing hard work and dedication, writers can overcome even the most ridiculous obstacles. After all, while writing his memoir, he was nearly killed by a real-life version of a Stephen King character. Luckily, King survived to tell the ironic tale and share his expertise with aspiring writers.