Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Does Stephen King Write Horror?

I finished 'Under The Dome' by Stephen King in two days. I had to stop to eat. It clocked in at 1,074 pages of unadulterated, pure word magic. It may be one of the largest epics that he has written in his career but every word was worthwhile because by that final page, the characters were more than just fiction...they were friends. I'm not ashamed to say I cried. While I am still drifting in the euphoria of the man's brilliance, I would like to pose this theory.

I'm not sure Stephen King actually writes horror. I think he writes about human nature, and that can be truly horrifying at times. Stephen King shows us the dark side of ourselves. By the end, we even feel pity for the villains. After all, they’re only human. He is a master at character development, creating people so real they could be your next door neighbors, the boy you had a crush on in sophomore English, or your slightly deranged co-worker that you suspect will blow up one day.

I think he studies human behavior, and I believe he loves not only the good in us...but the bad as well. Aren't the bad more fascinating?

Stephen King also has one of the most clearly defined voices of any author I have ever read. While reading other novels, a part of me always holds back, critiquing the style of the writer. When I read King, I forget I am reading...and I live in the story.

Today I have one wish, and its not fame or fortune. I wish some of his magic would rub off just a little so that someday I might be able to carry someone away...to another time...a distant world...with only the power of my words.



  1. If you haven't already stopped by my blog today... do so... there is a link to a short story a writer friend of mine wrote and I think you would greatly greatly greatly appreciate it! The title "Stephen King Ate My Brain"...

  2. I got THE DOME back before Christmas but have not started it yet. I am anxious to read it, but I've been intimidated by the size of the tome, me being the slowest reader in the world and all. But I'm sure his writing skill as you have pointed out will make this book read much faster for me. King's not a successful author for no reason. His mastery of the written word has brought him the success he so well deserves.

  3. Stephen King's definitely got a distinct style and voice that is quite compelling. My problem (a small one that doesn't preclude me from enjoying most of his books) with his writing is that his characters tend to be repetitions of previous characters. I've found they tend to have similar mannerisms, similar quaint sayings, and he tends to include similar archetypes.

    That being said, he paints them well and definitely connects the dark side of the human condition to reality with amazing accuracy.

  4. Yes, I agree, King's a genius at characterization.

    My favorite, and I haven't read his latest, has always been, "Needful Things." He nails us in that one. When my friends and I shop, we use that expression for something we seriously do not need, cannot afford but go ahead and buy anyway.

  5. Cool! Another blogger said she hated this book, and I was so sad. I'm glad to hear a contrary (and positive) view! I agree that he reaches far deeper than just horror. He once said he wanted his work to have resonance. It does.

  6. I love you guys! And not just 'cause you love SK.
    Valerie: Read the story and it was GREAT! Thank you so much. Everyone needs to head to Val's blog and check it out.

    Lee:Read that book! It takes a few chapters to get into it, those big ones of his always do but once your there...there is no looking back.

    Bane: I hear ya. He does tend to overuse character traits but they are so good!

    Terry: I loved Needful Things too. The way he connected everyone in the town was genius.

    CKHB: I cannot believe that someone said they hated it! Blasphemy! It really is good. He sees deeper than most of us.

  7. I'm not big on Stephen King, but I know what you mean.
    I just watched Gran Torino last night (forgive me, it's hard to get my hands on movies in Japan) and it made me cry too.

    No matter how sad your story, you only make an audience cry when they FEEL your characters.
    I felt exactly the same way. One day, I want to write characters that make people come away saying, "I want to be a better person". I want to write characters people feel!

  8. Linguista: I cried watching that movie too! I love Clint Eastwood.


It helps to know I'm not just talking to myself.