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A modern master reveals his secrets

Many novice writers study literary classics in hopes that some intellectual genius might rub off on their pliable young minds. However, any astute aspiring writer with intentions to succeed in any material sense of the word won’t neglect the work of contemporary authors who receive a lot of buzz.

Stephen King is one such author, and while many find his novels and stories disagreeable, the fact remains that with a wildly and consistently popular body of writings, King is a major success. In 2000, King took a break from the fiction that made him famous and published a half autobiography, half crash-course book, ON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT — one of the most instructive works that anyone interested in writing can read.

Its accessible language and simple suggestions create a comfortable, almost conversational interaction with the text in which King guides the reader to discover what makes a great writer and how to go about becoming one. Among other invaluable pointers, he reveals his trade secrets about adverbs, passive and active voice and how to create a compelling story that is alive on the page as opposed to dead and neglected on the dusty shelf.

For readers who are looking for something besides an instruction manual, however, there is a personal side to the book. This is where the memoir part comes in. King gives snapshots of his life up until the time he begins writing his own memoirs. These vignettes reveal the most influential characters in King’s life, from his beloved mother to the villain who ran him over one foggy night in 1999.

With these fascinating details running the lenghth of the book, ON WRITING provides indespensible writing advice that transcends genre alongside a series of vignettes that are at once meditative, subtly instructional and entertaining.

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Timothy E. Wood II

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