five stars for King's exceptional biography/'handbook'
On Writing by Stephen King
reviewed by Rebecca Lerwill
First published in 2000, I wasn't sure if Stephen King's On Writing would still be a helpful handbook for a newbie author almost ten years later.
Shortly after I began reading the first part which tells King's personal side in a vividly written autobiography, I didn't care about the answer anymore; I found myself hugely entertained. The pure honesty in which King describes his ups and downs (often more downs), allowed me to understand his battle with addiction – alcohol, cocaine and the utter need to write. Maybe it isn't fair to call King's profession an addiction, after all -- that's what the man does best. But as someone who shares a similar 'addiction', I'm just going to say that he would probably agree.
If you are looking to read a “how-to” book on writing, the second half of the book might surprise, disappoint or thoroughly enlighten you. There aren't any how-to chapters which tell you how to properly plot your story, form and mold your characters, or make your dialogs flow. The unconventional way King brings his points across, is very refreshing. I've thumbed through many other books in this genre; but just like King says in the opening line of his second foreword, “...most books on writing are filled with bullshit.” I must say – I couldn't agree more.
No matter if you are a non-writing King-reader or if you are a writing King-non-reader, On Writing will entertain, teach and open your eyes to the complex world of (creating) fiction. Creating fiction, because it is not just writing in proper grammar that makes a book good. It is the determination, the love, feel and creativity the author pours into his/her piece. And King most certainly brought all these points - and more - very well together.