On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft Summary & Study Guide

Stephen King

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

  • 45-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 66 chapter summaries and 5 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a professional writer with an MFA in Creative Writing
Access Full Summary

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft Summary & Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 45-page guide for “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 66 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Childhood Trauma and The Influence of Media on a Writer’s Imagination.

Plot Summary

Stephen King’s 2000 memoir, On Writing, details King’s formation as an author and provides writing advice. The memoir is divided into five sections: “C.V.,” “What Writing Is,” “Toolbox,” “On Writing,” and “On Living.”

In “C.V.,” King provides a curriculum vitae describing how he was formed as a writer. He begins in his early childhood and describes his life with his mother, Nellie, and older brother, David. King’s father is not in the picture, and the family moves around frequently and never has much money. King begins writing as a young child, first copying content from comic books then moving on to original material. He begins publishing work in magazines during his teen years. It isn’t until he writes Carrie that he gains significant financial success as a writer. King marries Tabitha Spruce, and they have three children. This section also describes King’s experience with alcohol and drug abuse. He gets sober in the 1980s, after an intervention from his wife.

In the brief section “What Writing Is,” King compares writing to telepathy, in which the author must transmit information to the reader. He asserts that it is all possible, and sets the stage for the ensuing section, “Toolbox.” Here, King provides practical advice to the reader about the process of writing. Each writer should have a toolbox containing the basics of vocabulary, grammar, and style.

The following section, “On Writing,” delves deeper into the stylistic elements of writing beyond the fundamentals. King details his own writing practice, which consists of writing behind a closed door every morning. He broaches the topics of plot, story, character, dialogue, theme, sensory detail, pacing, and backstory. Finally, he discusses the process of revision, research, writing seminars, and publication.

The final brief section, “On Living,” describes King’s near fatal accident. A car hits him on one of his daily walks in 1999 and inflicts many severe injuries, including a leg broken in nine places. King undergoes surgeries and slowly recovers. At the time of the accident, King is in the midst of writing this memoir, and, once he is well enough, continues work on it.

This is just a preview. The entire section has 426 words. Click below to download the full study guide for On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.