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On Writing by Stephen King

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

Scribner, 2000

I read King's Carrie when I was 13 years old.  Having outgrown Harlequin romances,  I'd recently borrowed Sidney Sheldon's sexy The Other Side of Midnight from our local library. I sped read along, enjoying its life lessons, until my nosy neighbor who'd somehow found out informed my mother.  I pled a mix-up with The Other Side of the Mountain, a "nicer" novel about a skier turned parapalegic.  So when a year later my Mom found me with King's novel about a telepathic classmate killer, she was not pleased.  But after lots of arguing she said, "I give up, read what you want."  I never opened another King novel, although decades later I saw The Shining.

Fans will want to read every word of On Writing, the life anecdotes, the multiple examples from novels. Others, be prepared to skim pages, for King does not keep his promise to use words sparingly.  But carry on; King's common sense and sincerity are contagious. And he's funny.  He has advice for wannabe writers (give it up) and tips for real ones.  Get rid of those adverbs for example, don't cut corners to introduce back story  ("Hello, ex-wife," Tom said to Doris as she entered the room"), work can't be avoided, read and write a lot, and tell the truth.

King pissed me off when he wondered what kind of a writer only writes a few books.

But still, he is generous.  He shares his craft, his ideas and his life. I may soon read The Stand.  Don't tell my mother.

Update: Did not read The Stand. No interest after a few words. I'm really not a King fan.

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