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Friday, February 16, 2007

"On Writing" by Stephen King

I'm no great fan of Stephen King's horror genre books but I do recognise him as a very accomplished and popular writer. In that spirit, I have just finished reading "On Writing" by Stephen King.

"On Writing" is a book about, yes, writing; the hows, whys and wherefores; as Mr King experiences them. From this perspective it is a book mainly for writers and would-be writers. Non-writers might also find the autobiographical first section interesting but would probably become bogged down in the rest of the book.

It's written well - should we expect less? - and I found it personally interesting. Writers approach the task of writing a novel in different ways; some plan meticulously others just start with a basic premise and write the story from there. King tends towards the latter; something that, as a novel virgin, I found quite validating of my own embrionic approach.

King also has some very firm opinions that at times verge on the obsessive. He makes a very strong call for the eradication of the adverb - especially those that end in the dreaded 'ly'. The issue for King is that adverbs modify verbs in a way that can usually be shown by the story. Using the adverb is, in effect, to 'tell' rather than to 'show'. I was left with a sneaking suspicion that at times King overstates his case, simply to push his point home; 'firmly'.

I recommend this book to any writer or aspiring writer; it is both entertaining and informative, whether or not you agree with everything King says. Stars? Let's say 4.5 (out of five).

"On Writing" by Stephen King, Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 0 340 82046 2

Posted by fordy at 6:56 PM
Categories: Reviews