On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

On Writing: A Memoir of the CraftOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not as compact as the author makes out (he is a storyteller after all), but still very useful not just to aspiring writers but those who wish to understand how novels are put together. King's practices are not universal, but it's still interesting to see the way he approaches the craft – starting with characters and a situation and letting that play out, and not being fixed on the way his stories will resolve. The plots of his books are not overdetermined, but unfold naturally, keeping the author (and he hopes, his readers) guessing. The themes of the book also emerge naturally once the first draft is complete – King steps away from the manuscript, comes back to it with fresh eyes and then tugs the loose ends together to form a satisfying whole. His books are not novels of ideas, in other words. The story always comes first. Then again, King doesn't claim to have a monopoly of wisdom on the subject of writing, and there's an endearing sense of humility to this project. It's a plain-spoken, personal and honest account of the job.

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