Stephen King is one of the world’s most popular authors. He has lived an interesting life and has filled that life with writing since his very early years. On Writing is one of King’s many publications and differs from his others in a very notable way, it is not a novel but a memoir about his journey with writing and also his explanations and tips to aspiring writers. Whether you love or hate King, his influence and success cannot be denied and giving this book a read is a must for any aspiring author (especially if you are working in similar genres to King as who could give better information on the horror novel industry than its king, King).
The book talks about King’s life history and ties it in with his writing and writing advice. One of my favorite parts of the book was when King was describing his first experiences with writing. He was a sickly kid and as a result of that, he read a lot. Eventually, he started to rewrite the comics he was reading for some reason and when he told his mother she told him that he could do better than that and he began to try and write his own stories. King goes on to describe the first story he wrote (a children’s tale about magical animals) and later gets into his actual attempts at writing. He wrote and submitted a lot of stories to magazines and publicists. The future professional author racked up quite a collection of rejection letters, and in a detail I quite enjoyed is that he would stick the slips on an old nail until he ran out of room and had to get a bigger nail to put the slips on.
King has lived an incredibly interesting life and his rags to riches story can be seen as an inspiration to writers everywhere. The man has been hit by a car and struggled with drug addiction yet he’s still here and still writing. His actual writing tips are interesting as well.
One such tip is to not touch your first draft for six weeks after writing it and to also give the draft to another person to read during this time and to tell the reader not to tell you their opinion until they are ready. I find this tip to be very interesting and can see the reasoning behind it. I, personally, haven’t done this yet but will consider it the next time I finish a novel.
King also states that you should only take a short time off from writing in the general sense and should return to it during your six-week break but only for short stories or novellas that are unrelated to your main project. I think that this is a very telling piece of advice and helps explain the efficiency of King and the number of works he has been able to produce.
His advice regarding the second draft is pretty standard. It tells the reader to polish up the basics of the writing like grammar and spelling when needed and to also try and focus on the big picture ideal of the story and whether or not the story has a greater theme in it or not. After this, he essentially tells the aspiring writer to seek out a group of Beta Readers (which is easier said than done).
Overall I believe that the book was a very interesting read and gave a wonderful insight into the mind of Stephen King. The tips were interesting and the story of King’s life added a lot of flavor to the book and made it a good read as opposed to something dry and clinical.
4 horror books out of 5