Stephen King's "On Writing" is everything I was hoping it would be and more. As an aspiring writer myself, I have been looking for books about writing by those who are dedicated to the craft itself. "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield has been a great tool already, but when I found out that another Stephen wrote a guide, I knew I had to have it.
King's one part memoir, two parts field guide is smart, instructive, and often amusing. It's full of wise advice from the viewpoint of a seasoned veteran of the work. This is one that I will come back to every once and awhile to glean from. I wanted to read the book cover to cover first. I'll do a deep excavation later. But, here's five things I'm taking away from "On Writing"
1) I've finally read a Stephen King book! (I'm not a fan of creepy stuff...)
2) Love him or hate him, he's carved out a very prominent place among history and literature. This alone earns him the space to share his expertise.
3) The mechanics of general vocabulary and grammar really do matter. The rest of the bells and whistles will raise it, but cannot hold up the foundation. Those simple mechanics have to make up the basis of whatever you write. All else will fail and fall without it.
4) If in doubt, always come back to the story. The characters and their perspective is why people read in the first place.
5) Write with "the door closed" first and foremost. In other words, write for yourself and perhaps a specific person in mind. Your other readers will come along the journey later.