An Editor at Work: Stephen King

I’ve become a big fan of Amazon’s “Look Inside!” feature. You can read a significant chunk of many books absolutely free right on your computer screen.

“Look Inside” is intended to encourage browsers to buy books, but it’s also useful to writers. Instead of going to the library to browse through, say, 20 or 30 novels to see how a professional writes the first page, you can do the same thing at home. (Another great resource is, which allows you to read the entire text of classic books online, absolutely free.)

Author Marilyn Durham used this strategy when she was writing her successful novel The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing. How do the pros handle transitions from one chapter to another? How are new characters introduced? What does good dialogue sound like? Examining published works at the library helped her answer all these questions.

Today I want to point you to a “Look Inside” feature that can help you learn about editing. Stephen King’s book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft lets you compare an original piece he wrote with the edited version. Annotations explain the reasons for each change. It’s fun to read – and enlightening! Click here to read it. (If you own the actual book, this section starts on page 277).

Successful writers are always developing their craftsmanship. We’re fortunate to have the Internet right at our fingertips, offering us endless resources to help us achieve our writing goals.


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