Friday, September 21, 2012

On Stephen King

When asked, "How do you write?" I invariably answer, "one word at a time."
~Stephen King

Happy Birthday today to Stephen King, one of my many writing mentors (unknown to him), whose skills I have tried to absorb through years of reading his many novels and short stories. I was pleased a number of months ago when I found this site (I WRITE LIKE):
…and when I pasted in my text it came back with the answer: Stephen King
(Although when I tried a few samples of my writing here more recently they came back as James Joyce, Dan Brown and Chuck Palahniuk. Hmmm.)

Looking around my house I found over 50 Stephen King books (including one script and a few comics/graphic novels). I’ve only read 38 of them—a few are still in my writing stack partially read or unopened and waiting for me. A few I’ve read more than once—favorite tomes I’ll probably go back to and revisit someday.

For fun, in no particular order, here is my short list of favorite Stephen King books.

It’s funny how I’ve met so many writers who have ONLY read this book by Stephen King. It’s good, especially the last chapter that talks about the car accident that nearly killed him and slowed down his writing for a while. BUT, his other books, you know, the scary ones, speak volumes more to any reader/writing trying to learn what is so good about his writing.

A damned scary (and fairly traditional) vampire tale. Oh, it also a character named Mark—a 12-year-old who gets what is going on before most of the adults in The Lot.

My favorite work by King. Great characters set in a post-apocalyptic plague world.

So gruesome I know at least one person who would no longer read King after reading this book. My favorite moments are the smaller, short stories within the story, like the time a prize bull was buried up in the cemetery.

It’s about a writer with an evil twin. What’s not to like?

Scariest. Clown. Ever.

Best TV Show made from a Stephen King Book? I’d nominate:

Worst Stephen King Movie (As much as I love his books, I don’t think a lot of them translate well to the movies):

Stephen King Book(s) I wish I liked more:
Everybody (but me) seems to love ‘em.
I’ll give them another try one of these days.

Most forgettable King book (to me):
A sword and sorcery sort of tale. It is on my shelf, but I recall very few details of it (unlike his other books).

Best Stephen King comic I’ve read:

Next King book in my reading stack I want to read:
And Stephen King signed it. :-)

So Happy Birthday, Mr. King. Wishing you many more—and lots more writing.
Thanks for the entertainment, the scares and the writing lessons—one story/novel at a time.


What’s your favorite King book or movie?


Jon said...

I love King. When he's great, he's immortal. When he phones it in, he's still not that bad.

My favorite King book is the Stand. Easy. I devoured that book. I first got it back in school when we had to order a book from this scholastic book order thing and then do a book report on it for English class. Almost all the kids except me picked Stephen King, because, I don't know... they recognized the name, maybe. Anyway, the teacher allowed this, but she very obviously disapproved of in a snobby literature-fan kind of way, which is kind of funny. I don't remember what book I picked, but I distinctly remember the way my friend was so pissed after ordering the Stand because the book was so big. He was my friend, but he was alos kind of a dumb kid and not a Reader at all and for some reason he had assumed the King books would all be... I don't know... four page comic books or something, I guess and his book report would be super easy. "Look at it," I remember him shaking it at me and then tossing the book angrily into his locker, "It's like a phone book!" He was so pissed.

Eventually, I found the book in his room, read the back and intrigued, I stole it from him (not that he cared). It was the first Stephen King book I ever read and I loved it. The post-apocalyptic adventure? Right up my alley. I wasn't a big horror kid and I had always thought King was all Friday the 13th type shit or something, but after the Stand, I read everything else he did. I loved that book so much, I once put back a stack of comics because I happened to see that there was an uncut version of it for sale with an extra 400 pages. It was like finding treasure. Yeah. Loved that book.

I also loved On Writing, it's the only writing book I've ever read. Also, It is also fantastic. Love that one. Totally stuck with me forever, I can still remember moments from it. The mummy on the frozen river. The zombies at the ballpark. Georgie getting his arm torn off. So good. I've cooled on the Gunslinger books, I'm not a fan of the ending or the way it kind of meandered to nowhere. I'm going to buy the new one at some point, but I'm in no rush.

The worst Movie/TV adaptation? Hmmm... There's so many to choose from... but I'd have to say: The Lawnmower Man. Good Lord, that's a stinky poo-poo.

Qlaudie said...

Terrific, Mark! And iwl says I write like Ursula K. Le guin! That's cool on a number of levels. Or maybe it just said that because the name Ursula appeared so many times. ;)