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On Writing

Narrated by: Stephen King
Length: 7 hrs and 59 mins
5 out of 5 stars (391 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"Not since Dickens has a writer had so many readers by the throat…. King's imagination is vast. He knows how to engage the deepest sympathies of his readers…. It is part biography, part collection of tips for the aspiring writer. In the final chapters, King tells, in graphic details, the story of his recent accident…. a bizarre and absorbing story, told brilliantly by one of the great storytellers of our time."
Guardian

In June of 1999, Stephen King was hit by a van while walking along the shoulder of a country road in Maine. Six operations were required to save his life and mend his broken body. When he was finally able to sit up, he immediately started writing. This book is the extraordinary result.

©2000 Stephen King (P)2000 Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster Inc.

Critic Reviews

"This is the written equivalent of Delia Smith's How To Cook. And, like British home cooking, the world of popular fiction will be better off for it." ( The Times)

What members say

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A must read for anyone into writing or memoir or Stephen King

I've never read Stephen King because he'd never written anything in a genre I like, but, as a writer, I had to try this book. Stephen King's memoir on writing turned out to be engaging, funny, endearing, inspiring and instructive, and I loved every word of it. To be read to by the author himself is a bonus, as his voice carries his love of life, writing and... Tabby!

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Spoiler:- It was the dog sniffing the cooler

If you could sum up On Writing in three words, what would they be?

One Good Author

Who was your favorite character and why?

My favourite character was Stephen himself (or Steve as I like to call him (NB: I would call him 'Steph', but that reads more like an infection rather than a name)), and in all honesty this was quite surprising. I had enjoyed reading his novels 20 odd years ago but have since grown out of them and so have not read any in quite a while. This book was recommended to me, I gave it a read and found that I enjoyed it more than expected.

What about Stephen King’s performance did you like?

His sexy sexy voice. OK, you got me, it's not sexy, but it sure as hell wasn't a high pitched nerdy squeak that I was expecting.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

My emotional reaction was "Oh my God!". I am in the midst of writing a book and read 'how to books' to keep inspired and on track. In the main those books are pretty good, inspiring and informative, but they are worlds apart from this. Not that this book teaches you anything as such (none of them ever do, the secret is to write), it is rather that this book is so well written it is uninspiring. How can anyone craft a set of words as well as this person can? Reading (OK, hearing) what Steve has written it is easy to hear the years of dedication he has spent honing his craft. The prose joins together so easily and listening was such a joy that I found myself wanting more. He writes about incidents that told by anyone else would be uninspiring. But by Steve, I found myself on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what would happen next, what he would say next.

Any additional comments?

Alright. I hate going into things expecting them to be Earth shattering only to find out that they are good. I am then left disappointed as my expectation was not met. The above is my opinion and a lot of you may not agree with it. Some of you will think the book is good, one or two of you will think it is OK and one of you will think it is crap (but lets face it that guy is a negative dude anyway). The point is, if you are going to the trouble of reading this review all the way up to this point, then just get the book. You won't know if the book is for you by reading someone else opinion on it, so just get it and read (listen) to it. It may not be the best book you've read, but I can guarantee that it won't be the worst. Oh, and my title to this review? you will know what I mean at the end.

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Well worth a listen.

I've been a fan of Stephen King's novels since I was young. Many of his stories planted the seeds for my interest in the horror/supernatural genre. It was very interested in hearing such a successful and prolific writer give a run down of his writing process.
The first part of this book is autobiographical. I believe this to be important in giving the listener/reader an idea of how a person such a King comes to be a writer in the first place, and how events in his life have influenced him as a writer.

The second half deals with the actual writing process. This was very interesting to read.
It is sometimes easy to believe that writers such as King manifest award winning novels in their sleep with little to no effort, while the rest of us have to grind through hours of bad writing and false starts to achieve a result. King's honest run down of his process does well to dispel this belief, which I found very reassuring!

I'd recommend this book to prospective writers who are looking for pointers and inspiration, and also to fans of Stephen King's work who would be interested in learning about his life and the processes he used to create some of their favorite stories.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Must read for any aspiring writer

The perfect class amd perfect teacher for anyone hoping to better understand writing and looking to do their own. Lots of interesting anecdotes within as well

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For all lovers of writing's craft

Excellent! A new appreciation for a writer who, up until now, I had not read. Plenty of great tips and very engagingly told, particularly with the author as narrator. Highly recommended.

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A must-read for all writers

In his memoir of the craft, King explains what writing is in three words: “Telepathy, of course.”

20 years since he wrote the book, King and I, the reader, had a “meeting of the minds.”

To all aspiring writers, King shares: “the scariest moment is always just before you start.” But, “you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”

Fantastic! A must-read.

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It will make you want to write but better

Wow! Loved this and it inspired and motivated me. Going to listen to it again!

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Inspiring - and not because it's about writing

If you're over 50 (and no doubt under 50, too) you'll love how Stephen King recounts the stories behind the novels you grew up with. A charming autobiography that takes you simultaneously along two memory lanes - your own and his.
I read the book when it was first released in 2000 but hearing the man speak is a special treat. His funny, self-deprecating wit is a total delight.

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Very inspiring

An impressive window into the world of one of the world’s best fiction writers. King explains this book is not an autobiography, however it glimpses into his childhood and discusses his struggles and accomplishments breaking into the literary world. The book takes you into the mind of the writer and gives great advice for those up and coming. Lastly, King talks about his experience with and after the infamous van incident (it is up to you to research the tragic end). I loved this book.

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The King of story telling tells us how he does it

A snap shot into the life and mind of the man, and Stephen King himself, which is possibly the best bit about the book

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  • Karen
  • 10-09-2012

Part 'How to' part Autobiographical

Would you consider the audio edition of On Writing to be better than the print version?

Yes - easier to access for busy budding writers

What other book might you compare On Writing to and why?

None, Stephen King's advice and narration are so easy to listen to and his honesty is very inspiring.

Have you listened to any of Stephen King’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes, Bag of Bones, love his voice, this was a different type of book and very easy to listen to.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I was very moved when he admitted and owned his alcoholism.

Any additional comments?

I love his message, writers need to understand that he wasn't born with a golden spoon. He worked very hard at some seriously menial jobs and perservered with his writing when most of us would be making excuses.

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  • milo
  • 12-08-2018

i love this book

if you want to know more about writing no nonsense style with a big grin on your face, well, look no further.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Matt
  • 02-02-2014

Not a fan of his genre but this is wonderful

Horror and suspense have never been my thing. I only know Stephen King's work through books that have been turned into movies.

After reading this, I'm thinking perhaps I'll try one of his stories.

I bought this book because it seems to be universally recommended by writers I respect.

Glad I did as I loved it from start to finish.

The first part, where he tells his early life story is hilarious, intimate and interesting. You get to understand why he writes what he writes. I was also left thinking I'd love to have this guy as a friend.

He narrates beautifully. As such, I'm glad I got the Audible version first rather than the hard copy or Kindle.

I found what he has to say about his craft humble, helpful and inspiring. He's at pains to dispel some of the common "thou shallts" of writing fiction, such as plotting out in advance and creating character dossiers in advance.

I won't spoil it for you by summarising the rest. All I want to say is, if you write, whatever you write, you will find this useful and uplifting. You'll also be entertained.

I'll most likely buy a hard copy or Kindle version too as there's lots of useful stuff I'd like to refer back to.

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  • Bronwyn Johnson
  • 15-07-2019

Part biography, part teaching, pure magic!

I was really surprised with Stephen King's courage and honesty with the stories he shares in this book. He shares his struggles with substance abuse, incredible partnership with his wife Tabitha and his unique approach to writing. I was particularly surprised to learn that he doesn't create a completed plot for his books before he starts writing and that he allows the characters and the stories to evolve over time. As he says, if even he doesn't know how the story will end, then there's no way his readers will be able to guess the ending.

This book is not a technical manual on writing or a recipe to follow step-by-step, but it does provide answers to many questions that Stephen has been asked over his career and a truly generous sharing of what works for him. It was as if I was sitting in the same room, listening to him share openly from his vast experience - the good times and the bad.

I loved the book. It is as entertaining as it is educational. I will apply some of the lessons he shared in my own career moving forward.

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  • emeraldeye
  • 05-04-2019

fantastic

still just as relevant today as it was when it was published, barring a few old references. and King is a gem to listen to. highly recommended

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-03-2019

Wonderful, in entirety.

This was, for me, a delightfully insightful look into the internal struggle, triumph, and wisdom of one of the most prolific fiction writers today.

Aspiring writers can do far far worse than than set aside the time to take this in.

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  • Jan Bonthuys
  • 15-02-2019

I enjoyed this book as much as I learned from it.

I enjoyed this book as much as I learned from it. Thank you Mr Stephen King

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  • Christina
  • 05-10-2018

No muss, no fuss, practical advice

Really great little book that doesn’t overly embellish the technique of writing. Stephen King is charming and straightforward. He demystifies his practice in a way that is within most peoples reach.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 23-09-2018

Great book

Lot of informations about King and really good tips about writing. Sound quality was the Best maybe to quite. I recommend it. Also Stephen King is Reading it by himself.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 15-09-2018

Helpful

First half was more autobiographical and the second half is really good.
I learnt a lot.

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  • Blinkinmarvellous
  • 13-04-2013

Great personal insight

A rare thing - a modern writer, a great to many, willing to stop and reflect on his success, share his thoughts AND read it himself for the audiobook version. On Writing is part autobiography, part discourse on creative writing read engagingly by the author throughout.



Don't be put of by the autobiographical element if all you are after is creative writing tips; likewise, don't be put off by the tips if your interest lies in King's life story. The two work well together.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • stephen
  • 28-11-2013

Genius

Would you consider the audio edition of On Writing to be better than the print version?

I have both the print and the audio version and there are benefits to both. The print is useful as a quick reference guide but the audio is just a brilliant and engaging story and guide to writing

What did you like best about this story?

The insight into Stephen King's mind as well as the tips on writing. It made me want to start writing and also left me in awe at his ability to construct the perfect phrase.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

I loved reading about the ideas for his books, how one simple idea would slowly transform into a long novel.

Any additional comments?

Utterly brilliant, exactly what an audio book should be, if you are on a long journey or doing a task long tedious task you can get yourself lost in the words of Stephen King, this audio book helped a 3 hour drive up the motorway fly by.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Dr Zube
  • 08-05-2013

Autobiographical and a manual for writing

The narration by King himself is great, once you get used to his slightly unusual tone. This guy knows about writing and it is a fascinating insight into how King writes. I listened to this in part, a large part to be honest, to get my own writing going again. In some respects this was pretty hard as some of kings advice i struggle to see how I could follow, however many of the tips I could see myself following. The main thing is the sheer love King has for writing is so obvious throughout, and that I found very inspiring.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Kev Partner
  • 27-08-2012

Brilliant

I listened to this a number of times over the years before I began writing myself but have just revisited it having become an author with a few books under my belt and therefore some experience to help put King's book in context.
I don't agree with every last word he says and some of the advice on publishing is naturally dated, but this is a brilliant book and I recommend it wholeheartedly to any aspiring author. Or, in fact, any author at all.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Mick
  • 05-05-2015

Not a King fan but this is excellent

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely, this is well thought out advice from one of the most successful writers of our time.

Any additional comments?

I've not read much Stephen King but I have no hesitation in recommending this audiobook.

It provides many, many useful writing tips and advice and if you are writer you cannot fail but to gain something from it regardless of your experience level.

You only have to look at the number of writing courses and text books which quote from this text to see how valuable it is.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Earl Robinson
  • 01-03-2015

Memorable and Inspiring

The most memorable thing about this book was its honesty - Stephen King allows us to see through the window of his life to get a glimpse of the man and the writer. The most inspiring aspect of this book was the permission it provides to those of us who aspire to write but doubt ourselves. Stephen King, thank you. Thank you for the permission to try, permission to fail, and permission to try again. You are an inspiration.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jax
  • 19-02-2015

The Master Storyteller!

Being a lifelong Stephen King fan, I found this insight into his life and process of writing completely fascinating and compelling. It has also made me want to pick up a pen and get writing, even though that was not my reason for buying it! Listening to him read gave it the feel of a conversation with the great man himself. If you are an aspiring writer or just a fan of his books, this is a fantastic listen and I whizzed through it, wishing for more at the end. Highly recommended!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Joanne G.
  • 07-07-2014

Interesting and informative

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Any one who dreams of being a writer should read this book. It's not a writing manual, but more of a guide on how to develop the tools all writers need. With practical examples and advice drawn from his own experience and writing career, King takes the reader on a guided tour of his development as a writer and highlights some of the skills he believes good writing should demonstrate.

What did you like best about this story?

This is part autobiography and part writers aid and is full of little details that keep the listener interested all the way to the end. If you like biographies or Stephen King, you can't really go wrong with this book

What about Stephen King’s performance did you like?

King's voice takes a little getting used to, but once you have the rhythm of his speech in your head, his voice is engaging and he has some very interesting points to make.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I did listen to this in one sitting, but it's a book you can dip in and out of and your leisure as well.

Any additional comments?

For fans of Stephen King this is a must read book, but for me the best way to 'read' this book was to listen King's voice narrating his own story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • alex_holmes_367
  • 11-04-2013

Inspiring

An inspiring glimpse into the mind of a true genius, an inspiring listen that makes even the unskilled in wordplay want to start typing something imaginative.

Nice work Mr King

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • 19-05-2015

Essential read for any writer

This was my first audiobook experience, and I couldn't have chosen any better. Pure magic!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful