I'll say this right up front: I don't particularly enjoy Stephen King's books. Too gory or too long, I usually think. There's only been one of his novels that I liked enough to finish (The Eyes of the Dragon) and its sort of a non-Stephen King, Stephen King novel. I couldn't deny, though, that the man knows what he's talking about when it comes to writing, for shear quantity alone. So when a few people mentioned I should read his memoir/how-to book On Writing, I decided to give it a try. I'm so glad that I did. I really enjoyed this book.
In the first section, King describes his life and how it led him to becoming a writer. Avid fans will enjoy getting to read how King came up with the ideas behind some of his most famous books, including Carrie. He also describes in some detail his addiction to drugs and alcohol. A final section, a coda of sorts, describes his life and how he returned to writing after a brutal accident that nearly killed him.
In the second section of the book, King goes more deeply into how to write. He talks about the tools a writer uses (language, grammar, etc) and gives examples (mostly not his own) of writing styles and successes. The advice was solid and I especially liked the concrete examples King gave of editing his own work. I do think that advice on writing can only go so far (a sentiment King and, I think, most other writers would agree with) and that, in the end, reading about writing may be like listening to music about sex: interesting, educational, but probably won't really make you better at it.
Still, On Writing allowed me to see more clearly how a best-selling author approaches his own work, which was a process I find fascinating. I am certain Stephen King fans will love the inside look at their favorite author. More than that, though, I think other readers will enjoy this book as much as I did.
Buy On Writing on Amazon.
Also, there's an On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition coming out this July. I wonder what new information it will contain.