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Book Review: On Writing

Title: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Nonfiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Julia

Personally, I've never read any of Stephen King's fiction works, titles such as The Shining or Carrie. However, I am a fan of writing and am interested in writing little stories myself, so I thought, "Hey! Reading a book on writing by a bestselling author might just be a good idea." I was actually motivated to fulfill this notion of mine by the amazing Brittany of @bookbarrreview on Instagram, who said to me,
"If you like writing, or you're just interested in how stories are created, it's definitely worth a read!"
 --Brittany, Book Barre Review Blog and @bookbarreview (Instagram)

On that great description courtesy of Brittany, let's get this review started!

First off, we need a description of the book itself. On Writing is a nonfiction book split up into four different parts - "C.V.", "Toolbox", "On Writing", and "On Living" - although it can be argued that the section titled "Toolbox" does not count. (For some reason, on most reviews I've found online, this section has been excluded from the list, but it is definitely a part of the book.) The first section, "C.V." is an introduction of sorts that covers King's life and what has shaped him as a writer. (This is where the "Memoir of the Craft" part comes in.) It was definitely interesting, perhaps because I am a fan of biographies/autobiographies/memoirs. It was also helpful to hear a bit about King himself, especially because I have not read any of his other books nor did I know very much at all about him.

In the next debated-on part, "Toolbox", King creates a transition of sorts from one part to the next, and uses a metaphorical writer's toolbox to explain the "tools" you'll want for your writing.

The "On Writing" section is the part is, obviously, on writing. While Stephen King doesn't get all nitty-gritty into things, he does cover a few topics and shares his own unique views on them, including his opinions on theme and plot.

The last section goes into how writing has helped to save his life, in a way.

And, now that we have all of this covered, I can finally begin sharing my thoughts on this book with you. Overall, I did enjoy the book. (Well, duh, Julia: you did give it 4 out of 5 stars!) From King’s sarcastic humour to the advice he has to give and the stories he has to share, the book really is something that I would consider helpful if you did want to write. While some parts might be a bit outdated (I’m sure the publishing process is different by now, although he didn’t go too in depth with it), the book is still entertaining to read (yeah: nonfiction can be entertaining; explore its potential, kids) and interesting.

The first part was really like your average biography on any sort of writer: a sort of background indirectly showing you how they came to be the writer that they are. Something that I really liked in this section was looking at King’s ambition for writing; it’s contagious. (Definitely good for writer’s block.)

I also really liked his metaphor with the toolbox which pretty much said, writers have toolboxes. They use tools to craft stories. These are some important tools you’ll always need; these ones are give or take. There were also other metaphors in his writing that I really did like that described this complex and confusing thing that we know as writing, including the fossil metaphor (which I’ll let you discover on your own).

His tips, like I said earlier, were unique and definitely something that at least I haven’t heard or seen before, which I was entirely grateful for. They were so different yet so helpful and smart. Some of them did seem a little surprising at first, but once he went into detail about it, I was on his side. (I’ll be sharing some of my favorite lessons Monday and next Friday.)

Another part I really liked was his little section on how writing has kept him going. In fact, that was an underlining theme of the whole book. And what a good idea that was.


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