There are loads of books and manuals on writing: some are extremely helpful because they offer very useful advice, but the vast majority don’t do anything more than explain to aspiring writers the grammar rules they should have learned in school, and promise to teach them a few tricks of the trade. The fact of the matter is that to become a good writer, you have to read a lot, and you have to write a lot: there are no shortcuts or tricks. Nor is there a set of rules that belong to some kind of magic formula, that you can just follow to guarantee your next book becomes a best-seller. Moreover, it takes a minimum of basic talent, an extra edge which can help you stand out among the sea of struggling writers, and the leap of quality that only comes with time and practice.
When he wrote this book, Stephen King’s intention was not to produce a writer’s manual, but to share a brief anthology of really useful advice that he believes can make the difference in the career of an author who, with the right cues, can produce something really good. King thinks the relevance of this book lies in the fact that it discusses writing as a craft. Other authors have already written about grammar and style, but not many people have written about writing as a profession. Like any job, it takes time and dedication, both to learn, and to put what you have learnt into practice.
Tools are much more important than any tricks you might learn here and there. Write a lot, then write some more, get familiar with the craft, build a toolbox that helps you put your creative skills to use and do it in the most effective way you can. You also need to know how to review your work and tweak it to achieve a perfect end result. King likens writing a novel or short story to fixing a front door, comparing the work of a writer and a carpenter (hence the toolbox). Both professionals need to know how to do the job, and have the right tools at hand, whatever the job. If you want to be really good, you can finish the job with the touch of a real craftsman so it looks perfect not just to you but to everyone else who sees it, too.