Part memoir & part writing manual, Stephen King gives us a modern classic of sorts in ‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft‘. Having been touted by fans & critics alike as the undisputed king of storytelling, King starts off by explaining the reason behind writing this book in the first place. He then moves on to telling us about his journey towards becoming the writer he is today – his childhood, inspirations from pop culture in his adolescent years & the struggling phase of his career as he barely managed to make ends meet. He explains how his job as a janitor inspired his first novel ‘Carrie‘ & how his wife Tabitha urged him to finish writing it when he had pretty much abandoned the same. It’s hard not to be moved when King learns that ‘Carrie’ ensured he didn’t need to worry about money for the rest of his life.
In ‘Toolbox‘ & ‘On Writing‘, King lists down the essentials one would require to become a successful writer as far as popular fiction is concerned. He covers aspects like vocabulary, grammar, dialogue, narrative pace among others while illustrating the points he makes with the help of numerous excerpts from his own works as well as those of others. He stresses upon aspirant writers to do a lot of reading (ahoy Mr. Chetan Bhagat!) to understand subtle differences between the dos and dont’s of good storytelling besides offering encouragement & useful advice on handling the non-creative aspects of a writing career, such as getting hold of a good literary agent for instance. He doesn’t hesitate in admonishing the works of his fellow writers in case of lazy writing, nor does he spare himself when guilty on similar counts. Needless to say, the point he seems to be making throughout this segment is that “story comes first, then comes the rest“.
In the final third of this book (‘On Living’), King narrates the near-fatal road accident he suffered in agonizing (King probably won’t appreciate the use of that) detail & how writing eventually helped him recover both physically & mentally. (Fans of the author will notice that the same incident partly served as inspiration for his 2008 novel ‘Duma Key‘.)
Recommended for those who love to read, highly recommended for those who intend to pursue a career in writing & a MUST READ for those who wish to discover the love of doing both.
Overall Rating: 9/10
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