‘On Writing’ by Stephen King

Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is one of those books that I’ve always heard about from other writers, but I didn’t get around to reading it until very recently. I wish I’d gotten around to it sooner because it’s truly a fantastic book.

In it, King talks about the events that led to him becoming a writer, which is all well and good, but the real meat of the book starts about a third of the way in. This is where he starts doling out advice on what things to avoid in your writing (“The adverb is not your friend”) and encourages you to really think about how your sentences are constructed.

I’ve been saving my favorite excerpts from the book to a text file that I can reference later. I’d like to share one:

“One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. […] Remember that the basic rule of vocabulary is use the first word that comes to your mind, if it is appropriate and colorful. If you hesitate and cogitate, you will come up with another word – of course you will, there’s always another word – but it probably won’t be as good as your first one, or as close to what you really mean.”

And there’s plenty more where that came from.

On Writing is available from Amazon in all the usual flavors: paperback ($13), hardcover ($19), Kindle ($11), and unabridged audiobook ($20).