|Stephen King: On Writing -- A Memoir of the Craft|
(Hard Cover), ISBN 0-684-85352-3
On Writing opens a window onto King's soul, not in a half-hearted way or as part of a self-aggrandizing scheme. A master of his craft, he gathers his life experiences, and a pattern emerges, linking the people met and actions taken with a colorful imagination that constantly asks "what if."
The second half of the book zeroes in on the art of writing. King proposes two theses:
Good writing consists of mastering the fundamentals.
It is possible, with lots of hard work, dedication and timely help to make a good writer out of a merely competent one.
Like an onion with its layers, King peels away each element of fiction and holds it up to the light for inspection and analysis: dialogue, description, narration, theme, pacing, etc. But talk is cheap. King insists the writer needs to love writing -- love it so much that he or she will work hard, nail those rejections to the wall and keep on writing.
The writer must also read. Writing and reading function as interconnected and codependent skills. There can be no room for the person who claims to be a writer but fails to read. Lessons wait to be learned in the pages of the genre of the writer's focus, in the other areas of fiction that may seem unrelated and in the non-fiction, real world journals.
On Writing also discusses the aftermath of King's accident: the pain, physical therapy, and the emotional and mental struggle to get back to his passion, his career spanning decades, his lifeline. King's vibrant recollections and confessions garner a deeper respect for his strength and tenacity. In order just to sit for the long hours needed to write the stories we delight in, King endured five painful operations on a smashed hip and a leg literally broken to bits. With this book, Stephen King underscores his mark as a teacher of life and the craft, a spark of inspiration, and a great talent. To close with his words -- "Life isn't a support-system for art. It's the other way around."
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