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On Writing | [Stephen King]

On Writing

In June of 1999, Stephen King was hit by a van while walking along the shoulder of a country road in Maine. Six operations were required to save his life and mend his broken body. When he was finally able to sit up, he immediately started writing. This book - part biography, part a collection of tips for the aspiring writer - is the extraordinary result.
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Publisher's Summary

"Not since Dickens has a writer had so many readers by the throat.... King's imagination is vast. He knows how to engage the deepest sympathies of his readers.... It is part biography, part collection of tips for the aspiring writer. In the final chapters, King tells, in graphic details, the story of his recent accident.... a bizarre and absorbing story, told brilliantly by one of the great storytellers of our time."
Guardian

In June of 1999, Stephen King was hit by a van while walking along the shoulder of a country road in Maine. Six operations were required to save his life and mend his broken body. When he was finally able to sit up, he immediately started writing. This book is the extraordinary result.

©2000 Stephen King (P)2000 Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster Inc.

What the Critics Say

"This is the written equivalent of Delia Smith's How To Cook. And, like British home cooking, the world of popular fiction will be better off for it." (The Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (125 )
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4.6 (69 )
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4.7 (69 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Amazon Customer Alton, Hamshire 27/08/2012
    Amazon Customer Alton, Hamshire 27/08/2012 Member Since 2011

    Writer, geek, dad.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Masterful"

    Until I listened to this book, I hadn't read any Stephen King books as I'm not a huge fan of the horror genre (more a sci-fi/historical fan). But this is utterly mesmerising.

    Narrated by King himself, it begins with an account of how he became the writer he is. At the start I wondered what the point was in this, but it gives context and depth to the whole work and is, in itself, fascinating.

    He then knuckles down to giving practical, workmanlike and controversial advice. Throughout, he acknowledges that this is just the way he does it - but it certainly produces results for him.

    You then get some practical advice on finding and dealing with an agent and suchlike before, as an epilogue, he details, graphically, the accident that occurred half way through the writing of this book. Thank heavens he survived otherwise this masterwork might never have been published.

    Entertaining, occasionally funny and profane (or funny because its occasionally profane) I have already listened to this twice and intend to do so again. I've also taken his advice and it's paying off.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    stephen ALTRINCHAM, United Kingdom 28/11/2013
    stephen ALTRINCHAM, United Kingdom 28/11/2013 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Genius"
    Would you consider the audio edition of On Writing to be better than the print version?

    I have both the print and the audio version and there are benefits to both. The print is useful as a quick reference guide but the audio is just a brilliant and engaging story and guide to writing


    What did you like best about this story?

    The insight into Stephen King's mind as well as the tips on writing. It made me want to start writing and also left me in awe at his ability to construct the perfect phrase.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    I loved reading about the ideas for his books, how one simple idea would slowly transform into a long novel.


    Any additional comments?

    Utterly brilliant, exactly what an audio book should be, if you are on a long journey or doing a task long tedious task you can get yourself lost in the words of Stephen King, this audio book helped a 3 hour drive up the motorway fly by.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr Bristol, United Kingdom 08/05/2013
    Dr Bristol, United Kingdom 08/05/2013 Member Since 2012

    Avid reader and listener, psychologist by profession historian by nature

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Autobiographical and a manual for writing"

    The narration by King himself is great, once you get used to his slightly unusual tone. This guy knows about writing and it is a fascinating insight into how King writes. I listened to this in part, a large part to be honest, to get my own writing going again. In some respects this was pretty hard as some of kings advice i struggle to see how I could follow, however many of the tips I could see myself following. The main thing is the sheer love King has for writing is so obvious throughout, and that I found very inspiring.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen LiverpoolUnited Kingdom 13/04/2013
    Stephen LiverpoolUnited Kingdom 13/04/2013 Member Since 2007
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    "Great personal insight"

    A rare thing - a modern writer, a great to many, willing to stop and reflect on his success, share his thoughts AND read it himself for the audiobook version. On Writing is part autobiography, part discourse on creative writing read engagingly by the author throughout.



    Don't be put of by the autobiographical element if all you are after is creative writing tips; likewise, don't be put off by the tips if your interest lies in King's life story. The two work well together.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joanne G. 07/07/2014
    Joanne G. 07/07/2014 Member Since 2012

    joeybev

    ratings
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    "Interesting and informative"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Any one who dreams of being a writer should read this book. It's not a writing manual, but more of a guide on how to develop the tools all writers need. With practical examples and advice drawn from his own experience and writing career, King takes the reader on a guided tour of his development as a writer and highlights some of the skills he believes good writing should demonstrate.


    What did you like best about this story?

    This is part autobiography and part writers aid and is full of little details that keep the listener interested all the way to the end. If you like biographies or Stephen King, you can't really go wrong with this book


    What about Stephen King’s performance did you like?

    King's voice takes a little getting used to, but once you have the rhythm of his speech in your head, his voice is engaging and he has some very interesting points to make.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I did listen to this in one sitting, but it's a book you can dip in and out of and your leisure as well.


    Any additional comments?

    For fans of Stephen King this is a must read book, but for me the best way to 'read' this book was to listen King's voice narrating his own story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    michelle stewart 09/04/2014 Member Since 2012
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    "Graet advice and funny with it,"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Anyone thinking abuot writing a novel should read this brilliant, candid look at the whole novel writing process.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Made me laugh


    Any additional comments?

    It feels like I've had a conversation with Stephen King and he told me all about being a writer. He obviously enjoys writing and the whole process of publishing his novels. He comes across as being a humble, wonderful man.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 02/04/2014 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
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    "The Master"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. King knows what he is talking about because he has done it.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Stephen King. Self deprecation.


    Which character – as performed by Stephen King – was your favourite?

    Stephen King


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Close the Door


    Any additional comments?

    All other writing workshop teachers take note - this is how you write a on writing book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Justine Bulls, New Zealand 23/02/2014
    Justine Bulls, New Zealand 23/02/2014 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This is a great listen"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. The first section is a short biography and that was really interesting. The second section is about how Stephen King writes. It is not a step by step how to do it creative writing manual, but a much better - this is how I do it, and it works for me - sort of book.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of On Writing?

    How he came back to writing after almost being killed.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    Doesn't apply


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Not as such, but I was emotionally invested in the book and I listened to it whenever I could.


    Any additional comments?

    A really interesting insight into the life of a man whose books I don't even read! And I still won't as I don't like that genre, but the man certainly is interesting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer London, UK 01/12/2013
    Amazon Customer London, UK 01/12/2013 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Like the advice you'd give your best friend"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    If you're thinking of buying this book then I have two words of advice; buy it.


    What other book might you compare On Writing to, and why?

    This book is probably the most direct and honest book of writing advice you've ever come across. It's rooted and illustrated in Stephen King's life and by the end of it - even if, like me, you never thought of yourself as a fan - you'll feel like you have hung out with 'Stevie' for a few days.


    What does Stephen King bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Stephen King is so honest in this book. It feels like he's not holding something back either because we might not want to hear it or he might not want to disclose it. It's the sort of heart to heart that you'd hope for if your best friend was a best seller.


    Any additional comments?

    If strong language is a problem you could find the choice of vocabulary of the book troubling in places - but don't let any preconceptions about Stephen King be a barrier. This is a fabulous book and you'll finish it somehow more inspired and clear sighted than when you began.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    June GLASGOW, United Kingdom 13/04/2013
    June GLASGOW, United Kingdom 13/04/2013
    ratings
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    6
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    "Great!"

    This book does what it says on the tin. It's narrated by Stephen King himself which gives it a real edge as he combines his memories of growing up, early adulthood, with his advice on how to write and get published. It's clever and inspiring and I would recommend it to any aspiring writer or simply any fan of the great horror writer.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 15 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Karen
    Germiston, South Africa
    10/09/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Part 'How to' part Autobiographical"
    Would you consider the audio edition of On Writing to be better than the print version?

    Yes - easier to access for busy budding writers


    What other book might you compare On Writing to and why?

    None, Stephen King's advice and narration are so easy to listen to and his honesty is very inspiring.


    Have you listened to any of Stephen King’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Yes, Bag of Bones, love his voice, this was a different type of book and very easy to listen to.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I was very moved when he admitted and owned his alcoholism.


    Any additional comments?

    I love his message, writers need to understand that he wasn't born with a golden spoon. He worked very hard at some seriously menial jobs and perservered with his writing when most of us would be making excuses.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Matt
    Parkdale, Australia
    02/02/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not a fan of his genre but this is wonderful"

    Horror and suspense have never been my thing. I only know Stephen King's work through books that have been turned into movies.

    After reading this, I'm thinking perhaps I'll try one of his stories.

    I bought this book because it seems to be universally recommended by writers I respect.

    Glad I did as I loved it from start to finish.

    The first part, where he tells his early life story is hilarious, intimate and interesting. You get to understand why he writes what he writes. I was also left thinking I'd love to have this guy as a friend.

    He narrates beautifully. As such, I'm glad I got the Audible version first rather than the hard copy or Kindle.

    I found what he has to say about his craft humble, helpful and inspiring. He's at pains to dispel some of the common "thou shallts" of writing fiction, such as plotting out in advance and creating character dossiers in advance.

    I won't spoil it for you by summarising the rest. All I want to say is, if you write, whatever you write, you will find this useful and uplifting. You'll also be entertained.

    I'll most likely buy a hard copy or Kindle version too as there's lots of useful stuff I'd like to refer back to.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Jo
    Holland Park West, Australia
    03/12/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Rather than a How-To Book, this is a How-I-Did."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. He's not condescending or all-knowing, but he is informative. He tells you what worked for him, but also the other options available if that's not for you.


    What does Stephen King bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    It made it even more personal. It was a nice touch that he read it himself - and I think it just brings home everything he said.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ian
    Frankston South, Australia
    08/05/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Must Have"

    That some people still refuse to think of King as anything other than simply a horror writer baffles me. Even at his worst he's considerably more entertaining, inventive and downright readable than most authors are at their best.

    On Writing is simply King advising authors how to improve their skills. It's a nuts and bolts 'how to' guide really but, as with most things King writes, there's way more to it than that. Yes he deals with everything from punctuation and vocab to finding an agent and getting published, but along the way he talks openly about his own journey.

    From his first big payday to alcoholism, from drug abuse to being almost killed by someone who might have been a character from one of his own books, On Writing is tightly written and yet never feels lightweight. And King's account of the aftermath of being hit by a van whilst out walking is some of the most wince-inducing horror I've ever read.

    Faultless.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Colin
    Manly, NSW, Australia
    23/02/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Pragmatic, practical, no fluff."

    I love this book and have listened to it on three occasions over the years. It tells Steve's story in Steve's way with asides on technique, method and practice. His excoriating views on literary conceits and sloppy writing are a hoot. He despises 'ly' adverbs which is a really good thing actually. Inspiring. And his central advice 'just write' says it all. Really.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • C.J.R Flanagan
    Bathurst, Australia
    25/01/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well Worth A Listen"

    I've been a fan of Stephen King's novels since I was young. Many of his stories planted the seeds for my interest in the horror/supernatural genre. It was very interested in hearing such a successful and prolific writer give a run down of his writing process.
    The first part of this book is autobiographical. I believe this to be important in giving the listener/reader an idea of how a person such a King comes to be a writer in the first place, and how events in his life have influenced him as a writer.

    The second half deals with the actual writing process. This was very interesting to read.
    It is sometimes easy to believe that writers such as King manifest award winning novels in their sleep with little to no effort, while the rest of us have to grind through hours of bad writing and false starts to achieve a result. King's honest run down of his process does well to dispel this belief, which I found very reassuring!

    I'd recommend this book to prospective writers who are looking for pointers and inspiration, and also to fans of Stephen King's work who would be interested in learning about his life and the processes he used to create some of their favorite stories.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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