Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday Solicitation

My first review for Saturday Solicitation is of a book that I have been meaning to re-read for a while now: Stephen King's On Writing. As I have sat and read this past week, I realized that I must not have given this book the full read that it deserves. I vaguely remember the big points in this book. The first half is a memoir that explains how Mr. King grew up to be the writer he is. The second half is writing instruction that includes a writer's toolbox, paragraph building, grammar and word usage, plotting and characterization, a recommended reading list, and writing assignments/corrected writing sample. I remember all of that being there, so when I picked the book up a few years ago, I must have read some of it at least.

I didn't know that Stephen King went to college to be a teacher. An English teacher at that. I found out that Mr. King hates outlines almost as much as I do. That was neat. He uses his medium to explain what is and what isn't helpful to a writer, including writing skills and writing location. He uses real examples of literature to discuss writers with large vocabularies. He talks about how planning and outlining doesn't work for him and compares his style of writing to digging up fossils. He lets the story unfold as it will with the characters driving it on, instead of outlines, character notes, and rigid plot layouts. Basically, he is a pantser like I am.

What I liked about this book: The memoir made me laugh, made me cry, made me cheer. It is touching and an incredible look at King's development. King gives some incredible writing advice that works for everyone, from beginner to professional. His writing is clear, without the political correctness of many other "writing manuals" on the shelf. If you genuinely want to improve your writing skills, check out this book.

What I didn't like about this book: Okay, so this is not a narrative. I am not usually fond of non-fiction because it makes me feel like I'm back in college reading text book after text book for a grade. On Writing confused my reader sensibilities sometimes. It was difficult to change gears from the often hilarious uncensored look at King's early life to his theories on writing. I could have done without the memoir as the writing advice goes. The other way is true too. I could have done without the writing section and just read the memoir. Neither part was bad. It was just difficult for me to go from one to the other in a single reading session. Perhaps for the first time reader, stop reading after the memoir ends for a little bit before starting the writing part.

1 comment:

Booksteve said...

I respect King's fiction but I truly enjoy his non-fiction as he is a most a perceptive observer of culture, pop and otherwise. That said, I remember thinking, too, that ON WRITING seemed a tad schizophrenic. At the same time, I rationalized that this was probably the way King's mind works!