On Writing Book Summary - On Writing Book explained in key points

On Writing summary

Stephen King

Brief summary

On Writing is a memoir by Stephen King where he shares insights into his writing process and offers valuable advice for aspiring writers. It is a must-read for anyone looking to improve their craft.

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    On Writing
    Summary of key ideas

    The Journey of a Writer

    In On Writing, Stephen King takes us on a journey tracing his early fascination with writing, starting from the stories he used to scribble in two-weight grade school papers. He paints a vivid picture of his struggles and how they shaped his writing craft. Apart from his personal stories, the memoir is punctuated by King's bursts of advice on writing, insisting on the importance of the basics: vocabulary, grammar, and elements of style.

    King continues with his own awakening to the importance of storytelling, where he recalls his experience of writing a retelling of a popular movie. His first taste of validation from the audience affirmed his vocation. From then on, there was no turning back. Despite the adverse circumstances and setbacks, he remained committed to his craft.

    King's Fundamentals of Writing

    Transitioning from his life story, King delves into the specifics of the writing process. He draws a clear line between good writing and bad writing, attributing it largely to the understanding and usage of grammar. King promotes active voice, advocates against adverbs, and emphasizes the importance of good description. He also stresses that good dialogue is not imitative of real speech but gives an impression of it.

    King discusses what he calls the "toolbox," stressing the importance of revision and reducing unnecessary details to improve the story's pace. According to him, the second draft should always be at least ten percent shorter than the first. One must also understand that writing is a form of telepathy, where we endeavor to make the reader see what we see in our minds.

    The Writing Process and Routine

    In On Writing, King reveals his writing routine. He writes every day, regardless of holidays or birthdays. He sets a daily target of 2000 words and doesn't stop until he's reached it. He also warns against the much-proclaimed muse; according to King, waiting for inspiration to strike before writing is a trap. Rather, one must create a conducive environment that invites the muse to play.

    King also shares his stern views on research. While it's important, it should never come before or obstruct the story. He believes that stories and characters should be allowed to develop organically, deflecting the more schematic preparations like note-taking or plotting. The story, according to King, should always remain at the forefront, leading the writer rather than the other way around.

    The Importance of Reading

    King strongly advocates the necessity of reading for aspiring writers, stating that it’s not possible to become a good writer without being a dedicated reader. He recommends reading across a broad spectrum to learn about different styles and approaches. To him, there's no such thing as good books and bad books. Every book we read teaches us something about writing, even if it’s an example of what not to do.

    In conclusion, On Writing is part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time. King bares his heart and life, showing us how his experiences have molded him into the writer he is today, and presents us with writing advice that is both practical and profound. Yet, he remains humble, acknowledging that he doesn't have all the answers and that writing remains a mystery even to him at times.

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    What is On Writing about?

    A highly esteemed writer, Stephen King shares his insights on the craft of writing in his book, On Writing. Through engaging storytelling and practical advice, King takes readers on a journey of his own writing process, offering valuable tips and techniques for aspiring authors. From developing memorable characters to mastering the art of revision, this book serves as a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their writing skills.

    Who should read On Writing?

    • Aspiring writers looking for practical advice and insight from a seasoned author
    • Readers interested in the writing process and the craft of storytelling
    • Individuals seeking inspiration and motivation to pursue their creative passions

    About the Author

    Stephen King is a prolific author known for his thrilling and suspenseful novels. With a career spanning over four decades, he has written numerous bestsellers, including Carrie, The Shining, and It. King's writing style combines horror, suspense, and supernatural elements, captivating readers around the world. In addition to his novels, he has also written non-fiction works, such as his memoir On Writing. King's storytelling prowess and ability to create memorable characters have made him one of the most influential authors of our time.

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