Book Review: On Writing by Stephen King (5/5)

8 Jan

I’m so excited to write this review. King blew me away with this book and I’m completely in love with it. I’ve added it to my list of highly recommended books. I’m so lucky to be adding so many there lately.

Cover Image via

Cover Image via

On Writing by Stephan King

I’d heard several people in my writers’ circle tell me, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” When I finally asked who’d said this, I was directed to King’s book. Boy, am I glad they led me there.

King’s book is divided into two parts. The first half of the book is a memoir covering King’s life up until the writing of the book. The second half is his advice on writing and how to be a successful writer. I thought I’d find the first half boring and only be interested in the second half, but I was completely wrong. King’s life has been filled with close calls, disappointments and as much love as one man can find. His advice on writing was basic yet detailed. He says to understand grammar and goes on to explain why its important to point out an adverb and avoid it. He talks about second drafts and how they should bring out theme and be about 10% shorter than the first draft. All of this is wonderful advice for the fledgling writer.

There were many times that I was overly excited by what King said. He argues that if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write. As many of you may know, I’m quite the avid reader, raking in 71 books last year (this was #71). King also advocated writing with literary abandon for a first draft, much like I found myself doing with NaNoWriMo. I listened carefully to his advise on revising a second draft because I’m in the process of doing the same. He spoke at length about having a few people read the second draft which I’m now more actively pursuing. King says his wife is his ideal reader and has her read everything he writes. Being that I write for 12-17 year old girls, I feel like I’m a creeper trying to find my ideal readers, so I’m settling for an old friend from high school. King would be disappointed.

King argues that almost anyone can be a writer and I think that to an extent that is true. The ability to write and to write well is, I believe, more learned than innate. This is not to say that everyone must learn. I think there are people who are born to be great writers and only need to learn how to use a pen. However, I also think that there are some people who require a good deal of instruction to be a good writer and that they must try a lot harder to get to the status of ‘good.’ I think I’m in this second group. While I could be discouraged, I was lifted up to hear someone like Stephen King say I could be a good writer. He believes in me!

The most touching part to me was at the end of the book when King discussed his near death experience when struck on the side of the road in Maine. My mother had an experience that I was reminded of that left her incapacitated for six months. The emotion that King had when reading this section (he narrated the audiobook) was really moving to me. I can’t imagine the emotion of finishing a book you almost died writing.

Even since finishing this  book, I’ve seen it recommended as a staple of a writer’s library. It’s easy to see why. King’s advice is clear and easy to follow and very very useful.

Writer’s Takeaway: This entire novel is a writers takeaway. If you’re a writer and haven’t read this, I strongly advise you to pick up a copy. The advice is wonderful and good for any genre.

Amazing read, highly highly recommended. Five out of five stars.

Until next time, Reader, write on.

Related Post: On Writing by Stephen King on Kvams Blog


3 Responses to “Book Review: On Writing by Stephen King (5/5)”

  1. Gus Sanchez January 8, 2014 at 1:28 PM #

    I swear, that book is like comfort food; it’s always there, and so good for you, when you need it.


    • Sam January 8, 2014 at 1:29 PM #

      I think it came to me at a good time because I’m facing NaNo revisions and it seemd kind of overwhelming!



  1. Recently Added to my To-Read List | Taking on a World of Words - January 10, 2014

    […] Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. I just finished reading On Writing and in it, King recommends that all fledgling writers read this book. I bow to the King in this […]


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