On Writing

On Writing

A Memoir of the Craft

Book - 2010
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King's critically lauded, million-copy bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work."Long live the King" hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King's On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King's advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999--and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.
Publisher: New York, NY : Scribner, 2010.
Edition: Scribner trade pbk. ed., 10th anniversary ed.
ISBN: 9781439156810
Call Number: 813.54 KING
Characteristics: 288 p. ; 23 cm
Subjects: King, Stephen, 1947-
King, Stephen, 1947- -- Authorship.
Authors, American -- 20th century -- Biography.
Horror tales -- Authorship.
Alternative Title: Stephen King on writing


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jun 23, 2019

Because I'm not into the horror genre, this is the first book by Stephen King that I've ever read. However, I'm not at all embarrassed to say that because it's a wonderful book! What I liked most about it was that it wasn't all about how to write. It gave a lot of background about him (and I love that it was told in First Person which made me feel like he was speaking directly to me)and best of all, I found it hilarious. I read this many years ago and as someone who writes a lot I found his information very useful but what I remember most about this book was the section where he talks about finding out about "Carrie" being published in paperback and the money that he was going to receive for it. I don't remember all of the details but his recollection of that moment was so hilarious and honest that it has stayed with me for years. This is worth reading even if you aren't interested in becoming a writer, if only to read about this amazing author.

Mar 17, 2019

I was gifted this book by my grandfather, though I am sorry to say that I wasn't a huge fan. There was nothing wrong with it, except for the fact that it didn't establish a tone quickly enough, resulting in a slow, uninteresting start. I would consider reading it again to check if I had missed something, but not anytime soon.
I have just read it again, this book is confusing, the preface talks about how King doesn't want to get distracted or wistful or add BS to his writing advice, he promised he wouldn't waste the reader's time. Then he tells us about his life, from start to current day, it takes up half of the book, and it's a waste of time. Most of it is written to massage his own ego, as iot has nothing to do with writing most of the time, then towards the end he gets into the "advice", most of it has to do with how he's apparently such a genius for not believing in silly things like God, I mean no one's ever done that before (sarcasm). He talks about him, him, him. It doesn't help me trust him any more that he claims he was an alcoholic, glosses over it and still sings praises to his own "genius" when a lot of his titles, were huge flops. Thank you Mr.King, for wasting my time, I would much rather read one of your better titles which are fictional and have little if nothing to do with you.

Dec 03, 2018

Below I comment only on the part of King’s book that offers advice on writing, not the longer part of the book that is autobiographical. King is an admirer of the grammatical rules of Strunk and White, but is not overawed by them: “They are offered with a refreshing strictness, beginning with the rule on how to form possessives…and ending with ideas about where it it’s best to place the most important parts of a sentence. They say at the end, and everybody’s entitled to his/her opinion, but I don’t believe ‘With a hammer he killed Frank’ will ever replace ‘He killed Frank with a hammer’.)” Note that the first sentence in this quotation is, quite appropriately, in the passive case, which King counsels us not to use. He is too good a writer to be the prisoner of his own rules. English is an uninflected language with a pretty rigid word order compared to an inflected language like Russian, so as King notes, an effort to change word order for appropriate emphasis may come sound stilted or unnatural, even if it isn’t against the formal rules of grammar. King says his professional career was greatly helped by advice that may have come from Algis Budrys, the Soviet-born science-fiction writer: “Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%.” King believes the revision of most drafts, if it is to be effective, should be mainly geared to deletion of unnecessary words and phrases. King is no substitute for the Fowler brothers or George Orwell as a guide to writing English, but he doesn’t claim to be. Unlike them, he is our contemporary, so virtually nothing he writes is dated. It is a witty, charming book that made me want to finally read one of his bestselling novels.

I found the first half of the book was semi-autobiographical and it was quite interesting to know that Stephen King is very human, and not just some writing machine who is holed up in some dark room writing because that is all he knows. He couldn’t be further from that. The second half is very informative, and I would recommend it to any aspiring writer. (submitted by JO)

Nov 01, 2018

What an unexpected pleasure it was to read this book! I must say I was hesitant to pick it up because I'm not a big fan of Stephen King's novels (not really the genre I usually read). However, it was lots of fun, informative, and interesting. I enjoyed learning about Stephen's curious childhood antics and how his writing developed over time. Great read!

Oct 31, 2018

If anybody has the right to give writerly advice based solely on success, Stephen King is one of them. With so many novels and short stories under his belt, King offers the collected wisdom, both learned and discovered.

The opening half is a look back on major events that helped to shape King as a writer, and you can see how even the little things, things seemingly unimportant or silly, can influence somebody and really leave a mark on them. From silly stories to ones that make you laugh or even cringe, the first half of this book is a treasure trove of personal experience.

The second part of this book offers answers to commonly asked questions. The advice is solid, though I don’t agree with all of it. However, not everybody writes or thinks in the same way, so naturally nobody will agree with every bit of another person’s philosophy.

This book is a fun read as well as an informative one. I suggest it to anybody who has questions about writing. Well worth the time it takes to get through it.

DBRL_JessicaM Sep 04, 2018

VERY different from what I expected. Many authors write books about writing, but King emphasizes memoir in this piece of nonfiction. It really drew me into the pages and I appreciated the time and honesty in his essays. I bought the book for later reference.

Mar 28, 2018

Stephen King's "On Writing" is everything I was hoping it would be and more. As an aspiring writer myself, I have been looking for books about writing by those who are dedicated to the craft itself. "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield has been a great tool already, but when I found out that another Stephen wrote a guide, I knew I had to have it.

King's one part memoir, two parts field guide is smart, instructive, and often amusing. It's full of wise advice from the viewpoint of a seasoned veteran of the work. This is one that I will come back to every once and awhile to glean from. I wanted to read the book cover to cover first. I'll do a deep excavation later. But, here's five things I'm taking away from "On Writing"

1) I've finally read a Stephen King book! (I'm not a fan of creepy stuff...)
2) Love him or hate him, he's carved out a very prominent place among history and literature. This alone earns him the space to share his expertise.
3) The mechanics of general vocabulary and grammar really do matter. The rest of the bells and whistles will raise it, but cannot hold up the foundation. Those simple mechanics have to make up the basis of whatever you write. All else will fail and fall without it.
4) If in doubt, always come back to the story. The characters and their perspective is why people read in the first place.
5) Write with "the door closed" first and foremost. In other words, write for yourself and perhaps a specific person in mind. Your other readers will come along the journey later.

Dec 09, 2017

Inept readers call this a novel; many reviewers totally miss the point King clearly makes at the incept: he tells us how he bacame an author, and even though he had a better backgroud for becoming a successful writer, he tells us we all can do so; and he clearly says few will become great writers. He then describes how we can become at least competent writers. He uses personal illustrations to allow us to see more clearly that most literate people (there are actually very few these days after years of black history in government schools) can become competent writers.

Oct 23, 2017

This novel made me laugh while making me feel more confident as a writer.

Check out my review of "On Writing: A Memoir of Craft" on my blog at:

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Aug 06, 2015

"Life isn't a support-system for art. It's the other way around."
(King, 101)

Jun 13, 2015

"Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just go to work."

Dec 17, 2013

"... sometimes even a monster is no monster. Sometimes it's beautiful and we fall in love with all that story, more than any film or TV program could ever hope to provide. Even after a thousand pages we don't want to leave the world the writer has made for us, or the make-believe people who live there."

Dec 17, 2013

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

Dec 17, 2013

“You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair--the sense that you can never completely put on the page what's in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page."

Jul 15, 2013

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

Lumpy694 Jan 23, 2012

stopped at page156


Add Age Suitability
Dec 15, 2015

scottwoods thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Aug 06, 2015

KABuck thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Jul 24, 2012

britprincess1 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Related Authors


Subject Headings


Find it at GCPL

To Top