Shane P. Carr
©2001, Shane P. Carr
Issue #1: 01/01/01
Holly Lisles Vision Book Reviews. It is here that you, the aspiring
author, will come to find the latest and best books on writing technique,
genre writing, and manuscript submission, as well as author memoirs and
other books for writers.
This month we are proud to bring you a review of a book that gives an honest, heartfelt look into the life of a writer, from his impoverished start to his phenomenal bestseller status. The book is On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.
I have been a fan of Mr. Kings for quite some time and found he is an author who has the gift of mesmerizing his readers. When I found out he was writing a book on his writing techniques compiled with a memoir on his life as a writer, I was salivating with anticipation. Now, some readers may be quick to discard Stephen King as a horror writer, but if they would only take a look at his full body of work, they would surely be impressed. On Writing gives you a look into how this best-selling author defied the odds and overcame poverty, alcohol abuse, rejection, and heartache to achieve his present status.
The book opens with Kings childhood and thirst for reading and writing. It offers a look at Kings earliest attempts to craft fiction on notebook paper, stapling it together and selling it to friends and relatives. King reveals his relationship with his mother and a horrifying yet humorous trip to the dentist as well as the things that scared him as a child. We see how his relationships with family and friends influenced his work and gave him a rich tapestry for creating his characters in later novels.
Readers watch as Mr. King takes form as an author. We learn how he dealt with his first rejection notice, as well as how he made use of advice given to him by mentors and rivals. We watch as King loses his job, only to come home and find a letter stating a publisher wishes to buy his novel Carrie. We share the joy of the first real sale and how the first advance is spent (on overdue bills and food). We share Kings excitement of learning he has reached bestseller status for the first time.
Later we watch as King falls prey to the demons of alcoholism and battles the odds with the support of his wife. Mr. King opens his soul to his readers in a brutally honest look at a writers life and the hurdles that can easily become pitfalls for aspiring writers or, with dedication and hard work, can be overcome.
In the second section of the book, aptly called The Toolbox,' readers get advice on writing techniques and grammar usage. King gives the Dos and Donts of fiction writing and explains what techniques work and why. He offers readers first draft samples of some of his work so that readers can see even best-selling authors start out with mistakes and need revisions. He discusses what to expect from agents and publishers as well as how to increase your chances at publication. King then offers a few exercises for readers to try.
The book closes with a first-hand account of the accident Mr. King was involved in last year, in which he was struck by a vehicle and injured badly. Opening himself to the readers, he reveals the thoughts and feelings that went through his mind at that time. Combining humor and some strong emotion, King shows a side of himself that few of his readers have ever seen. We get a detailed account of Kings road to recovery, his battle with his own fears, and a struggle to overcome writers block. King also hints at what his readers should expect next from him as a writer and what he, as an author, looks forward to.
Id recommend that, if you are a fan of Stephen King or and aspiring fiction writer, you read On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. It is one of the few books that will give you that inside look at a writers life and the hurdles that must be overcome.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft By Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner ISBN: 0-684-85352-3
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