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Stephen King: The Master of Horror

Stephen KingI have here the new section in CuteWriting with biographies and achievements of greatest writers who can influence you. Here is the first entry on Steve.

Stephen Edwin King (60) is perhaps the most popular and most respected creative writer in the US today (perhaps in the whole world). Not anything we speak of creative writing today is complete without mentioning his name.

The first of King works I read was Pet Sematary. Please read my little experience here. I then read a number of novels by him and soon lost count. And never did he disappoint me one bit. King is the most prolific and most renowned horror fiction writer in history.

Brief Bio

Born in Portland, Maine in 1947 (the year of India’s independence), he was a born writer. He kick-started his career early at school, where he contributed to his school newspaper, The Maine Campus. His first short story was 'The Glass Floor' in print in 1967. His first novel, Carrie (a classic in horror fiction and most read work of King) was accepted for publication after rejection slips from more than thirty publishers. Since then King has been writing and has published and sold more than a hundred million of his books worldwide. And almost all of his works have been adapted into either movies or television series.

King and His Fantasies

Steve is a man of dark fantasies (supposedly due to the train accident, which he witnessed in his childhood that killed one of his friends). Whether it is hotels with lunatics inside in The Shining, apparently innocuous cemeteries for pets in Pet Sematary, or obsessed fans like that of Paul Sheldon’s, King has it all dark, dangerous, and highly original.

His books may not contain so many apparitions, devils, werewolves, monsters, or undeads as you may normally find in other horror works; his horror is a special, highly realistic one. King tells you things you can and will believe. Rich in every detail, circumstances like King’s would make you do exactly what his characters do. This is because they are highly realistic and flawless.

Another King power is his special ability to keep you attached to the characters he creates. King characters hail from middleclass families, and most of them have horrible childhood memories and experiences to share (read Jack Torrance in The Shining, Scot Landon in Lisey’s Story, Paul Sheldon in Misery, etc.) After Charles Dickens, P G Wodehouse, etc., it’s King’s characterization I like the most. His is one of the few styles, which found commercial success while remaining literarily first-rate.

While I am full of praise for Mr. King and have learned a lot from his writing style, I must admit how disappointed I am at his nauseating use of language. He is perhaps the one best writer in classic who has this little problem of using obscenities profusely in his writing (the only thing I advise you not to follow from King). Many of the fans and critics of King have questioned his language. While his style remains full in detail and realism, it lacks that fine-tuned language prevalent in professional writing. Besides enriching the barbaric language by using three and four-letter unshackled words, he contributes to the slang by inventing his own words of connotations, such as ‘smuck,’ ‘redrum,’ ‘bool,’ and many others.


Horror is an element of one’s self. It’s inside each of us. Targeting that inside horror is extremely difficult for amateur writers. King targets this inborn horror in each of us by showing us what can happen in a particular situation. The situation can be any real life one, but targeting what extremity it can go makes all the difference; for instance, a man crossing the road can easily be the victim of a motor accident (perfectly normal though highly unexpected, unwelcome, and horrible).

In his recent book, Lisey’s Story, there is a character (don’t remember the name) that looks for a novel draft of Scott Landon (the husband of the protagonist and famous writer), and he uses some extreme methods like stalking Lisa Landon, the protagonist, and besetting her. This is something extremely horrific and very much possible.

King remains and stands forth as the foremost figure and a standard of evaluation for all writers. His success lies in hard work. Nobody might have written as profusely as King has (except some like Dean Koontz, Danielle Steel, etc.) Blessed with both popularity and respect for literary talent, King still writes profusely though his produce has dwindled a bit owing to that 1999 accident he had.

For more information of his experiences as a writer-- his eardrum got punctured, how his first draft was sold, his affair with his wife, car accident he had, all in his own words-- read his book On Writing.

Stephen King as child
Steve as a kid

Your comments are most welcome.


Stephen King Home Page
Wikipedia Article
Dean Koontz, Another Great Horror Specialist

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008



  2. any assignment on it? did you read the novel or go through the synopsis to get an idea of the novel? Please let me know to help you out.

  3. Interesting note on Pet Semetary. When King completed it, he let his best critic read it - that would be Tabitha. She advised him not to publish it as it was too dark even for him, especially with the infantile murderer. He agreed and put it in the slush drawer. However, when he was trying to extracte himself from a publishin contract, tthey had demanded he fulfill his last novel commitment to them, so he opened the drawer and gave the Pet Semetaary - the novel that was never to see the light of day. f course, it went gold, but hey, everything Uncle Stevie touches tuns to gold. But maybe not. He has always regretted writing and publishing under he pseudonym (Bachman) the novel Rage, which was found in the personal effects of the Columbine Massacre assassins. The plot details and Columbine were very close - and King has delisted the work.

    I could go on . . . hving read his entire catalog, and int eh case of The Dark Tower series, continually. He is one of my mentors.

    Edward C. Patterson
    author of The Jade Owl

  4. Hi Ed,

    Thanks, that was a good addition to my post. I would love to add more on King to this post. Many thanks.


  5. Most favorite work of King that I read was The Shining. Thanks for the review, I have just started reading Pet Sematary, I hope it goes well. But yes, as you say, everything King touches is gold.


  6. A good time spending novel.

  7. Why do you object so to bad language? I would say if you are writing for a particularly Christian readership then you will lose your audience - fair enough - bad for business - but foul language exists as part of life. I agree on "geddit?" and "fergeddaboudit" but it doesn't seem to have done King any harm re sales. I always thought swearing was forbidden in front of family, police, clergy and teachers. A character in a story, who had little respect for convention or worked in a bad language environment and did not swear, would be at least an unrealistic character. Like saying you can't read about dairy cows because you are allergic to milk...

  8. Hi Early Stretch, you have made an important point there. But if you closely look at the article, you will see that I am not opposing bad language made by characters. If a character says "f**** you" I don't mind. But what if King uses such bad language in the narration itself? That's what I advise no one to follow. It will be like your own characters influencing your writing style, which is unacceptable.


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