Book Review: On Writing by Stephen King

I’ve been a fan of Stephen King since before I started writing, almost since as long as I’ve been reading, even though I only recently started to read his stuff (I know, it’s weird). All of his great books, albeit in movie form, scared the shit out of me when I was younger, and I’m loving the remakes.

So far the only King books I’ve read are The Dark Tower series. Even though I feel like I’ve been a fan of King for ages, I’ve never read any of his stuff. I think I started IT ages ago, but I was daunted by how freakishly long it is, and put it away (I’ve bought a new copy and it’s just sitting here, waiting its turn).

But yeah, I read The Dark Tower and I realized I’m a fan of King’s writing as well. Other than the fact that I think he goes overboard on length more than a few times (which isn’t really a problem, but sometimes a bit annoying), I actually write very similar to King I think. Situation-driven suspense, spending time on the small stuff instead of the big firefights. Not overly complicated sentences or difficult words. Short and to the point.

I’d mentioned for my wife that I was looking for this book and on her way home from Gatwick airport, London, she popped into a bookshop and asked for it. She told me the woman who worked there looked like she was 400-years old. But she said she had a copy of my book. They found it in the back of a shelf, lying behind a row of books on display. The last one. I think it was meant that I should have this one.

As an indie author, I like reading books on writing, but I hate it when they get too textbook. One of my current favorites is Dennis Hays’ The Fiction Writer’s Handbook. I like it because it does what it says on the tin, no more, no less. And I figured a writing book by King that’s half memoir? Must be good.

And it is. I liked the biography part to begin with, King has lived some life, and it’s really interesting to learn about. His first success, his mother’s death, his troubles with substance abuse – it’s all great. I feel like I know him now.

And I think he’s a good teacher, when it comes to the On Writing part. He doesn’t force anything over your head, he says what’s good, what’s bad, but then points out this is his opinion. I’m sure that there’s lots of people who don’t like King’s writing. I do (except that there’s sometimes far too much of it cramped into the same book), and I’d like to understand how he does the things he does. I feel like my suspicions were true when I said that I think I write similarly to King, because after reading how he does stuff I feel like I do it much the same way.

This book is excellent if you’re a writer, of any caliber. New, old, doesn’t matter, this will teach you stuff. You might even like it even if you hate Stephen King, but I suppose it’s more interesting if you like him and his work. Hell, you might even like this book if you’re not a writer, just a fan of King.

Go check it out.

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