I’m usually really not huge on these kinds of books. Actually, I tend to hate books that are about writing and the art of writing and how to be a writer. I think writing is largely something that you get or you don’t and beyond that point, it’s such a highly subjective art form that it’s difficult to pin generic tips and tricks on.
But at 250 pages, I liked Stephen King’s On Writing. One of my favorite bits was the heavy warnings against adverbs, which I appreciate. Adverbs do suck and telling new writers not to use them is a great way of learning how to show and not tell.
And you can’t say that Stephen King isn’t entertaining. He really does know how to keep an audience engaged without totally losing the meat of what he wants to say. Props to him for presenting information in a way that’s interesting, easily understood, and fun. I’ve had professors who fail to achieve that much.
My biggest pet peeve with this one was, as you can imagine, the generic-ness of it. Like I said, I feel like writing is so subjective. While On Writing might be great for someone who is just starting out as a writer, I feel like anyone who’s seasoned has heard all this advice before. I also disliked the heavy amount of platitudes – eg:
“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” – Stephen King.
Overall, this was a decent book for anyone who hasn’t really done their homework on writing. However, if you’re someone who has worked as a writer or who spends a lot of time reading about writing, you can put this one down. It makes for an interesting read in that King definitely knows what he’s doing and he knows how to make what is essentially a tutorial book very entertaining.
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