Summer Coursework - On Writing

NOTE: Read this entire page BEFORE reading the text.


On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King, published in 2000, is a memoir of the prolific author's experiences as a writer, and also serves as a guide book for those who choose to enter the craft.

The first section of On Writing is an autobiography mainly about King’s early exposure to writing, and his childhood attempts at writing. King talks about his early attempts to get published, and his first novel Carrie. King also talks about his fame as a writer, and what it took to get there. This includes his relationship with his wife, the death of his mother and his history of drug and alcohol abuse. (Interesting and valuable, but optional reading)

The second section is practical advice on writing, including tips on grammar and ideas about developing plot and character. King himself describes it as a guide for how "a competent writer can become a good one." This includes his beliefs that a writer should edit out unnecessary details and avoid the use of unnecessary adverbs. He also uses quotes from other books and authors to illustrate his points. (Required reading)

The third section is also autobiographical, in which he discusses the 1999 automobile accident in which King was struck by a vehicle while walking down an isolated country road. He describes serious injuries, his painful recovery and his struggle to start writing again. (Interesting and valuable, but optional reading)

 In 2008, Entertainment Weekly listed On Writing as 21st on their list of The New Classics: The 100 best reads from 1983 to 2008, making it King's only entry.


There are many ways you can get this text:

    1) Buy the text at a bookstore.
                         This is what is required in a college classroom because you are expected to highlight and make notes within the text itself. 

    2) Buy the text at an online bookstore.
                         This text is available on for the mind-boggling price of one penny, plus shipping! Click here if you don't believe me.
    3) Check-out the text from the public library.
                         This is less than ideal because you will have to return it when the due date arrives - which means you will not be able to use it in class. 

    4) Read the text as a .pdf online.
                         Click here to go to read the novel on your computer screen. Alternatively, right-click here, and hit "save link as", to save it to your computer.
                         THE REQUIRED READING IS FROM PAGE 103 TO PAGE 249

    5) Listen to the audiobook on your iPod.
                         Part 2 - Required
                              Click here to listen to the audiobook. You can right-click here, and hit "save link as", to download it. Add it to your iPod like any other mp3 file.
                         Parts 1 & 3 - Not Required
                              Click here and here to listen to the other parts of the audiobook. 

    6) Read the text on your Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or other e-reader.
                         Go to, or any other file conversion website, and covert this .pdf to whatever file type you need.

Note regarding the use of Kindle, Nook, Kobo and other e-readers: I intend to make all of the texts which we cover this year available for Kindle and others. If you are considering buying one, this might be a good reason. You may, of course, use them during class. IPads are a different story. The jury is still out.