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Stephen King: A Massive Inspiration for Writers

This week’s blog post is kind of a mixed bag. I’ll start out with an update on the short story contest and my upcoming novel. Then I’ll follow up with a few reviews of some of my favorite Stephen King books along with why I think he is a massive inspiration for writers.

An Update on my Short Story

Cover of my short story titled The Figuring

Before we get to the reasons why Stephen King is such a huge inspiration, I would like to give a short update on my writing life. Although I always like to post my blog on Mondays, I’m late this week, but I have two excuses. The first one is I had to pick up my beautiful daughter and her adorable husband at the airport. There’s been a terrible void in my life since they left, but now I’m whole again.

The second reason is I’m back working on my next novel. It’s moving along nicely. I can’t say anymore, my muse is listening. If you are new to my blog, you can see the beginning of my Short Story journey in my Blog post here.

I have some other writing news, however. Short Fiction Break Magazine published the short story I wrote titled The Figurine. Here is the link if you want to read it:

My Top 3 Most Inspiring Stephen King Books for Writers

Book covers of my top 3 inspirational Stephen King books on a bookshelf

In other exciting writing news, Stephen King mentioned in a recent blog that his novel The Stand is being made into a television series that will air this December. Hopefully, they’ll do a better job than the one made for TV movie in the eighties. It did not do the novel justice. As I previously mentioned, Stephen King is a massive inspiration for writers and he has been particularly inspiring for me in my writing process. There are three books that stand out as being the most inspirational: The Stand, Duma Key and Lisey’s Story. This is by far not an exhaustive list, they are just the books I keep coming back to.

The Stand and Why it Inspires Me

The Stand has always been one of my all-time favorite books. In fact, it was one of the first novels I ever read and perhaps the one that inspired me to become a writer.

The scene in the Lincoln Tunnel struck a deep chord with me. The way King had poor Larry tripping over dead, diseased bodies in the dark…

‘When it faded he heard-or thought he did-the quiet sound of breathing. He stood bug-eyed in the dark, the hairs along the nape of his neck turning into hackles. He held his breath. There was no sound. He was beginning to dismiss it as imagination when the sound came again. . . a sliding, quiet footstep.’

That paragraph freaked me out so much, my hairs were turning into hackles. Further down the page, things get even more interesting for Larry. Did I mention I had a crush on Mr. Larry Underwood?

‘He began to struggle across the soft yet stiff barricade of bodies, stumbling, almost falling, clutching the railing, going on. His foot punched through into some dreadful sliminess and there was a gassy, putrid smell that he barely noticed. He went on, gasping.’

The pictures he paints using words are so vivid and repulsively awesome. I wanted to write like that, I still do. King’s writing is a high level to aspire to, one of the highest, but it’s that level of greatness that keeps me from settling for poor standards in my own work.

Duma Key and Why it Inspires Me

Another favorite of mine by King is the novel Duma Key. Once again King has me deeply invested in his protagonist, Edgar Freemantle. In this brief excerpt, Edgar’s truck is being crushed by a crane at a construction site. Did I mention Edgar’s in the truck?!

‘I start screaming because that’s when the pressure starts. The pressure is my right arm, first pushing against my body, then spreading, then splitting open. Blood douses my lap like a bucket of hot water and I hear something breaking. Probably my ribs. It sounds like chicken bones under a bootheel.’

I love it and cringed when I read the entire scene. I could almost feel the pain and poor Edgar’s fear.

Lisey’s Story and Why it Inspires Me

So, yes, we all know how good King is at writing the macabre, but he’s also a genius when writing about love. Lucky Tabitha. Here, I’m talking about Lisey’s Story, another of my favourite Stephen King novels. This one has the monsters and the creepy things hiding in the shadows but, for me, this was as much a love story as a thriller. King doesn’t have to get mushy either for you to understand the deep love between Lisey and Scott or even Scott and his brother, Paul. It’s conveyed through action, nuances and dialogue. This one had me in love with Scott almost as much as Lisey.

I’ve read all of Stephen’s books, some of them repeatedly, out of pure enjoyment, of course, but also with the hope that his writing style, his amazing way with words will show in my writing and somehow make me able to create stories and describe scenes the way he so masterfully does. (He probably wouldn’t approve of that long run-on sentence, by the way.)

I will probably never harness his level of talent but I think ‘striving to’ helps me always look for that perfect word, never settle for cliché and always, always delete those pesky adverbs.

‘I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops.’

– Stephen King


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