How good is Stephen King as a writer?

paranoid marvin

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I have had an odd history with him. I have yet to finish one of his books. I am a fan of post-apocalyptic (writing one right now myself :)) but I could not get through The Stand. I am reading Carrie right now, but it's more out of morbid curiosity than anything. I just can't step away. :eek:

The Green Mile was okay, but I saw the movie first so it probably ruined the series for me. I'll try The Shining, just for you, Hoopy. :)

In any case, he is commercially successful. And I can't deny that he's doing something right for his dedicated fanbase.

If you like post-apocalyptic (and who doesn't?) and can't get through The Stand (what a shame! Have you seen the tv mini-series?) then checkout Cell which is on a much smaller scale, but equally as riveting.
 
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Like many people with long careers King has 3 different periods

1) Scary as hell
2) Character driven weirdness
3) lamenting old man

Is first two careers made for fun summer reading. The last one not as much.
 

thatollie

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Like many people with long careers King has 3 different periods

1) Scary as hell
2) Character driven weirdness
3) lamenting old man

Is first two careers made for fun summer reading. The last one not as much.
If you haven't already, please go read Joyland. It's one of the most fun books he's written in years.
 

althea

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I think Stephen King is a wonderful writer,but I have read only seven of his books.Horror is not my thing at all.It tends to stay with me long after the book is finished.I read and thoroughly enjoyed The Stand.Another one I really liked was Dolores Claiborne.
My daughter in law is a SK fanatic and has read everything he has written and she assures me that SK is mellowing in his old age.
I started The Dark Tower series,but found it too bleak.
 

BigBadBob141

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I like Stephen King because I think he's a great natural story teller and I like his straight forward style of writing.
Some writer's while they probable have good plots try to be so clever and convoluted with their style that they bore me to death!!!
Sometimes S.Ks. books can get a bit bloated (nobody's perfect(not even me, I know that is hard to believe but sadly it's true)), however they are worth sticking with as things near the end.
 
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tinkerdan

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I've only read one of his books and that's Firestarter. Part of the reason I read it was because I opened it up and the beginning reminded me so much of A.E.Van Vogt's Slan that I decided I had to finish reading it and I bought it. I think the fact that by then his books were being made into movies as fast as he could write them turned me away from further reading of his work. I may have had the misconception that he was writing screen plays.
 

BigBadBob141

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Don't be put off by the films, the books are much better!!!
Haven't seen the film of the book but "Firestarter" is one of his better efforts!
 
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Phyrebrat

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I would argue that his books are not made for film. They just don't - and never will - translate to that medium because his stories are characterised by intense personal PoVs including massive amounts of internal dialogue. Everything is filtered and contextualised by the character and movies just can't do that.

The only Stephen King (horror) book that's achieved an adequate screen analogue to my tastes is Salem's Lot.

pH
 

BigBadBob141

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Some of his stories adapt quiet well to film.
I thought "The Mist" was excellent except for the ending which was far to bleak.
They should have stuck to King's original ending!
 

Frost Giant

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When he's at his best, he is very good. He is has a way of capturing the point of view of the average American. He is able to weave relevant pop culture minutia into his stories in interesting and amusing ways. That said, I think he may have peaked with the Wastelands and gotten a little uneven after that book. He's still enjoyable, though, especially a lot of his short stories like Lunch at the Gotham Cafe.
 

ratsy

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I have End of Watch lined up after I finish his son's new book The Fireman, which I can't help but feel I'm reading something special for some reason as I turn the pages. I read Hill's first book but wasn't blown away, but I am really seeing a different author here.

As for King, I just read the first chapter of IT this morning as I finally dusted it off and put it in my basement for some free moments, and it is so good. King has that skill of effortlessly drawing you in to the story. I know I've seen the miniseries a few times and we all know Tim Curry as Pennywise, but just reading it is a whole new level of awesome. The way he describes the circus smells down in the sewer, lingering above the rotting cardboard and damp, dank scents. It was just so great. So he is good. Really good.
 

nixie

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I like King, he is a story teller not a great writer. You could imagine sitting round a campfire and everyone gathering round to listen to him spin a yarn. I go to King when I want a simple enjoyable read. Some of his books are terrible others suck you in. He isn't one of my favourite authors but the Dark Tower is in my top ten fantasy series.
 

Judderman

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The only Stephen King (horror) book that's achieved an adequate screen analogue to my tastes is Salem's Lot.
The Shining is surely the best film based on a King book. Although King himself didn't like it so much, due to not making the evilness of the hotel so apparent, and was involved in an inferior tv version.

Based on the Dark Tower and a few others I would say King is a fantastic writer at times, though at some points his storylines get sillier/inferior so I'm not tempted to read a lot of his standalone novels. I imagine if he wrote less books he would be more consistent but clearly he likes to race through them.
 

Rodders

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I enjoyed Christine. It wasn't anywhere near as good as the book, but it was a fair and respectful adaptation.
 

MWagner

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Great storyteller, with a gift for creating immediately sympathetic and recognizable characters. Maybe the best chronicler of middle-class American life in the mid 20th century. And a truly fertile imagination, on display even more in his short stories than his more famous novels.

However, over his long career he has may have gone to the same well too often. Similar characters and tropes pop up over and over again. The insightful writer/teacher/advertising guy. The bullying bigot. The fanatical bible lady. The older guy who shares a six pack, and his wisdom, with the protagonist. And as a man of his time, he lacks the same insight to the average 21st century person. I recently took a run at the Cell, and the characterizations and dialog were hilariously anachronistic. And as we mentioned in the OP, he has problems with endings.

Still, he wrote 6-8 novels of intensely engaging suspense, and a couple excellent collections of speculative short stories. That's a pretty good career.
 

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