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(Huffington Post)   Why Stephen King can't write   (huffingtonpost.com) divider line 137
    More: Unlikely, Sting, Kings, University of Maine, taste test, Jack Nicholson, new novel  
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4618 clicks; posted to Entertainment » on 19 Jul 2014 at 2:09 PM (27 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



137 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2014-07-19 12:43:14 PM  
While I will agree that King has gone into the crapper over the last several years, that has more to do with the inability of editors to rein his more ponderous proclivities in.

King is a master at the short story. His short fiction is brilliant and concise, and hits like a sucker punch. His longer work tends towards the evocative and while it has a tendency to meander, it does so with a purpose. He has gotten into writing huge epic tales, with a patchwork of characters that tend to cross paths and it takes him a while to get them back into the plot, but the journey is generally a rewarding one, if you can ride the currents. The problem being, in his last few books, he's decided to focus his efforts on building characters that aren't terribly interesting. It is a decision to show inner life and motivations that while I can appreciate on one level as a writer, they don't make for particularly compelling storytelling.

King's On Writing is one of the go to books for anyone who even thinks they want to write. It is a no bullsh*t guide and memoir. It is the book I hand folks when they say, "I think I want to write." It is that good.

King has wallowed in his own creations, and sadly, doesn't have editors who have the guts to bring him to heel, to help him focus better. But King's excesses are still miles better than the sea of craptastic urban fantasy and thinly veiled romance novels that have werewolves and vampires and faeries that are masquerading as pseudo-horror today still.
 
2014-07-19 12:47:24 PM  
Well unfair he singled out Mr. Mercedes. I'm almost done with that book and it's one of the worst King books I've read in years. Usually he can create believable characters but everyone in this book is a half-assed cliche. I found myself rooting for the killer early on but even he sucks at being a villain. I kept waiting for it to get interesting and now that I'm nearly done I realize that won't happen but I guess I'll see how it turns out anyway.

That said, King's written some great stuff in the last few years. Just not this one.
 
2014-07-19 02:11:31 PM  

hubiestubert: King is a master at the short story. His short fiction is brilliant and concise, and hits like a sucker punch.


I agree.  His short stories are my favorites.
 
2014-07-19 02:15:33 PM  
Literary snobs. They put themselves through so much.
 
2014-07-19 02:17:08 PM  
I give the guy credit for punching above his weight class.
 
2014-07-19 02:22:21 PM  
img.fark.net
 
2014-07-19 02:22:42 PM  

hubiestubert: While I will agree that King has gone into the crapper over the last several years, that has more to do with the inability of editors to rein his more ponderous proclivities in.

King is a master at the short story. His short fiction is brilliant and concise, and hits like a sucker punch. His longer work tends towards the evocative and while it has a tendency to meander, it does so with a purpose. He has gotten into writing huge epic tales, with a patchwork of characters that tend to cross paths and it takes him a while to get them back into the plot, but the journey is generally a rewarding one, if you can ride the currents. The problem being, in his last few books, he's decided to focus his efforts on building characters that aren't terribly interesting. It is a decision to show inner life and motivations that while I can appreciate on one level as a writer, they don't make for particularly compelling storytelling.

King's On Writing is one of the go to books for anyone who even thinks they want to write. It is a no bullsh*t guide and memoir. It is the book I hand folks when they say, "I think I want to write." It is that good.

King has wallowed in his own creations, and sadly, doesn't have editors who have the guts to bring him to heel, to help him focus better. But King's excesses are still miles better than the sea of craptastic urban fantasy and thinly veiled romance novels that have werewolves and vampires and faeries that are masquerading as pseudo-horror today still.


I want to disagree with you, but I think you nailed it.  This is also why I haven't read a word Stephen King has written in about 25 years.

His problem is probably that he writes too much.
 
2014-07-19 02:26:55 PM  
That's not a very good critique of King. Yes, his prose is pretty simple and usually not great but it's a good fit for the kinds of stories King wants to tell. There is a place for big, lyrical, flowery prose but it isn't in a book about a murderous clown. That just annoys the people who want to hear about the clown getting around to killing things and it won't win respect from literary snobs since it's still about a murderous clown.
 
2014-07-19 02:29:15 PM  
Because Kathy Bates has him tied up in her spare bedroom?

DNRTFA, but I've read some really great stuff by King. I haven't read any of his books for a long time now, but from what I have read it's clear that he obviously can write quite well. We all fark up, of course. Being able to do something well doesn't mean 100% of the time you're successful.
 
2014-07-19 02:29:59 PM  

born_yesterday: hubiestubert: King is a master at the short story. His short fiction is brilliant and concise, and hits like a sucker punch.

I agree.  His short stories are my favorites.


gingernutsofhorror.com

"cold roast beef, cold roast beef"
 
2014-07-19 02:31:46 PM  

born_yesterday: hubiestubert: King is a master at the short story. His short fiction is brilliant and concise, and hits like a sucker punch.

I agree.  His short stories are my favorites.


Thirded. I wouldn't think twice about getting an SK novella. His full-length works-especially the more recent ones-might lead my backing slowly out of the fiction aisle(and bookstore)....
 
2014-07-19 02:33:11 PM  
I think for his coke n' drinkin' days i'm POSITIVE his wife was ghosting for him, one of the books from that era's dedicated to his Mother-In-Law...
 
2014-07-19 02:33:24 PM  

Apos: born_yesterday: hubiestubert: King is a master at the short story. His short fiction is brilliant and concise, and hits like a sucker punch.

I agree.  His short stories are my favorites.

Thirded. I wouldn't think twice about getting an SK novella. His full-length works-especially the more recent ones-might lead to my backing slowly out of the fiction aisle(and bookstore)....


Edited.
 
2014-07-19 02:35:20 PM  
King should have used "labyrinthine" instead of "mazelike". A labyrinth only has one path, while a maze forks.
 
2014-07-19 02:35:55 PM  
He's my favourite hack writer. :)

But I haven't read his recent stuff.
 
2014-07-19 02:36:10 PM  
I thought his short stories were about as hit and miss as his novels. Some good ones, some dreck.

This line always stuck with me, though:

"The dog is loose again. It is not sleeping. It is not lazy. It's coming for you, Kevin.
It's very hungry. And it's VERY angry."
 
2014-07-19 02:39:33 PM  
...and DICaprio can't act....

Yet they're laughing all the way to the bank.
 
2014-07-19 02:42:52 PM  
I absolutely love how today's literary critics (both professional and would-be) act as though the great masters they implicitly hold in esteem didn't write to get paid.  Writing used to be a job (What?!  I know!!) and a lot of the books we see as high-end literature today were also commercially successful when they were released.  The only thing, really, that's changed is that more writers today value story over form.  And while reasonable people can disagree over whether they like story or form more, it's ridiculous to pretend that one is inherently "better" or "more important" than the other.

That said, Mr. Mercedes sucked.  But if I wrote and published 2 novels a year a lot of mine would probably suck, too.
 
2014-07-19 02:44:31 PM  

Tryfan: I thought his short stories were about as hit and miss as his novels. Some good ones, some dreck.

This line always stuck with me, though:

"The dog is loose again. It is not sleeping. It is not lazy. It's coming for you, Kevin.
It's very hungry. And it's VERY angry."


In all of my experience with horror entertainment, exactly 2 works have given me literal nightmares: Jaws, and that story.
 
2014-07-19 02:47:46 PM  
I have been here for over 12 years and there are only two people who have garnered a majority of positive comments from Farkers .

1. Harold Ramis

2. Tony Gwynn

For some reason I thought that Steven King would make the list considering his "lifetime body of work".

Farkers have once again proven to be a very tough bunch to impress.
 
2014-07-19 02:48:18 PM  
I guess I'm a simpleton or easily entertained then, because I like quite a bit of King's books the last 10 years or so.  Not everything has to be the best thing ever.
 
2014-07-19 02:48:24 PM  
Of course, there was no maze in the novel "The Shining". FWIW, I agree that King really needs a tough editor for his novels. Lack of one is what ruined Tom Clancy for me. Well, that and all the crap with his name on it that he didn't write.
 
2014-07-19 02:50:40 PM  
"A rank of doors" makes sense, but it's uncommon usage these days. Unless the target audience is chess players...
 
2014-07-19 02:58:44 PM  
I can think of two times in my reading life when a horror author unnerved me so much I ended up staying awake reading all night.

1. When the generator goes out in the supermarket in The Mist and the lead character (whose name I can't recall) is in darkness and silence in the back room and hears the "slithery" sound over the bricks.
2. When Stu is trying to escape the CDC in The Stand and the Captain-Trips-infected nurse grabs his ankle and invites him to come eat chicken in the dark.

It's unfortunate that for about 20 years now King's Wang is hooked up directly to a printing press, but, at least for me, the man can get inside the head to terrified lizard hiding from the white ball in the night sky. .
 
2014-07-19 03:01:05 PM  

Tryfan: I thought his short stories were about as hit and miss as his novels. Some good ones, some dreck.

This line always stuck with me, though:

"The dog is loose again. It is not sleeping. It is not lazy. It's coming for you, Kevin.
It's very hungry. And it's VERY angry."


This is why I regard King as a hack.  This line is stupid and is written for stupid people:
1.  In its self-evident context, "Kevin" has prior knowledge and/or experience with "the dog" (as it is loose "again") and should not need most of this warning; "The dog is loose" should be sufficient.
2.  "Again" is only useful if the speaker had reason to think Kevin might not be aware of a change in the dog's state of incarceration.
3.  "It is not sleeping...lazy" is useless and redundant.  Kevin has no reason to think otherwise about "the dog", as was made clear by the implication in point 1.
4.  "Hungry" is implied in "it's coming for you"; or could be considered useless as the precise nature of the dog's motive isn't material to Kevin's choice of response.
5.  "Angry" might be the only useful descriptive word in the line, as it would negate any wishful speculation on Kevin's part as to the dog's present demeanor.

So, in summary:

"Kevin, the dog is loose again.  It's coming for you and it's very angry."  is about as good as that gets once you strip out the brainless, self-indulgent, fake "drama" that King was trying to imbue and also organize the line in a logical sequence of presentation.

Reading can either train your intelligence or drain it.  Why not read things that sharpen your thinking?  Why choose material that is dumbed down and, consequently, dumbs you down?  You might object that you read "to relax", and don't want to "work that hard", but that's the problem; smart literature is a chore to read if you're mentally lazy, but it is much more enjoyable *if* you've trained your intellectual strength.  You *literally* don't know what you're missing.
 
2014-07-19 03:02:29 PM  

Githerax: Reading can either train your intelligence or drain it.  Why not read things that sharpen your thinking?  Why choose material that is dumbed down and, consequently, dumbs you down?  You might object that you read "to relax", and don't want to "work that hard", but that's the problem; smart literature is a chore to read if you're mentally lazy, but it is much more enjoyable *if* you've trained your intellectual strength.  You *literally* don't know what you're missing.


God, you must be a blast at parties. Short answer to you dimwitted attempt at snobbery:

BECAUSE IT'S FUN.

You should try it sometime.
 
2014-07-19 03:03:45 PM  

hubiestubert: While I will agree that King has gone into the crapper over the last several years, that has more to do with the inability of editors to rein his more ponderous proclivities in.

King is a master at the short story. His short fiction is brilliant and concise, and hits like a sucker punch. His longer work tends towards the evocative and while it has a tendency to meander, it does so with a purpose. He has gotten into writing huge epic tales, with a patchwork of characters that tend to cross paths and it takes him a while to get them back into the plot, but the journey is generally a rewarding one, if you can ride the currents. The problem being, in his last few books, he's decided to focus his efforts on building characters that aren't terribly interesting. It is a decision to show inner life and motivations that while I can appreciate on one level as a writer, they don't make for particularly compelling storytelling.

King's On Writing is one of the go to books for anyone who even thinks they want to write. It is a no bullsh*t guide and memoir. It is the book I hand folks when they say, "I think I want to write." It is that good.

King has wallowed in his own creations, and sadly, doesn't have editors who have the guts to bring him to heel, to help him focus better. But King's excesses are still miles better than the sea of craptastic urban fantasy and thinly veiled romance novels that have werewolves and vampires and faeries that are masquerading as pseudo-horror today still.


Sadly, yes.  King is an amazing writer, but he's gotten so big and so famous that his editors no longer tell him when he's being bad.
 
2014-07-19 03:17:52 PM  

Beerguy: I have been here for over 12 years and there are only two people who have garnered a majority of positive comments from Farkers .

1. Harold Ramis

2. Tony Gwynn

For some reason I thought that Steven King would make the list considering his "lifetime body of work".

Farkers have once again proven to be a very tough bunch to impress.


3. Dolly Parton
 
2014-07-19 03:18:03 PM  
That example paragraph he used is the exact reason I stopped reading King years ago. He spends far to much time taking mundane details and finding overly complicated ways of describing them.
 
2014-07-19 03:21:20 PM  

Githerax: Tryfan: I thought his short stories were about as hit and miss as his novels. Some good ones, some dreck.

This line always stuck with me, though:

"The dog is loose again. It is not sleeping. It is not lazy. It's coming for you, Kevin.
It's very hungry. And it's VERY angry."

This is why I regard King as a hack.  This line is stupid and is written for stupid people:
1.  In its self-evident context, "Kevin" has prior knowledge and/or experience with "the dog" (as it is loose "again") and should not need most of this warning; "The dog is loose" should be sufficient.
2.  "Again" is only useful if the speaker had reason to think Kevin might not be aware of a change in the dog's state of incarceration.
3.  "It is not sleeping...lazy" is useless and redundant.  Kevin has no reason to think otherwise about "the dog", as was made clear by the implication in point 1.
4.  "Hungry" is implied in "it's coming for you"; or could be considered useless as the precise nature of the dog's motive isn't material to Kevin's choice of response.
5.  "Angry" might be the only useful descriptive word in the line, as it would negate any wishful speculation on Kevin's part as to the dog's present demeanor.

So, in summary:

"Kevin, the dog is loose again.  It's coming for you and it's very angry."  is about as good as that gets once you strip out the brainless, self-indulgent, fake "drama" that King was trying to imbue and also organize the line in a logical sequence of presentation.

Reading can either train your intelligence or drain it.  Why not read things that sharpen your thinking?  Why choose material that is dumbed down and, consequently, dumbs you down?  You might object that you read "to relax", and don't want to "work that hard", but that's the problem; smart literature is a chore to read if you're mentally lazy, but it is much more enjoyable *if* you've trained your intellectual strength.  You *literally* don't know what you're missing.


What you're doing is acting like its objective truth that form is more important than story. That's not true, at all. It's only because a focus on story over form is a relatively new thing that people like you act as though story is somehow secondary to form.

Movies don't typically employ stage acting anymore, either. Do you also lament that today's actors play their parts too naturally?
 
2014-07-19 03:24:29 PM  
drunkinagraveyard.files.wordpress.com

ReapTheChaos: That example paragraph he used is the exact reason I stopped reading King years ago. He spends far to much time taking mundane details and finding overly complicated ways of describing them.


Yet when Martin spends 10 pages in a GoT book describing the banquet he's considered a farking genius. Authors who write for the editors are base whores who deserve to be shoved in the recycling bin.
 
2014-07-19 03:30:04 PM  
Does this turd ever get to a point? I gave up around paragraph 30, I think.

I'm reading 11/22/63 right now and it's entertaining. If I want "literature," I know where to look for it, and it won't be found on the same shelf with this guy's crap, either.
 
2014-07-19 03:35:47 PM  
Did King get worse over time, or did I just get sick of the similarities in his work?
 
2014-07-19 03:37:20 PM  
You can write if you can't relate treyed the cast from Endworld
 
2014-07-19 03:39:51 PM  
Lisey's story was a hell of a slog for little payoff.

From a Buick 8 was the shaggiest shaggy dog story ever written. And yet, I just can't quit him. Full Dark, No Stars shows he still has it.

And I liked his mundane details.
 
2014-07-19 03:40:57 PM  

Beerguy: I have been here for over 12 years and there are only two people who have garnered a majority of positive comments from Farkers .

1. Harold Ramis

2. Tony Gwynn

For some reason I thought that Steven King would make the list considering his "lifetime body of work".

Farkers have once again proven to be a very tough bunch to impress.


Don't forget that everyone loves Dolly Parton.
 
2014-07-19 03:41:46 PM  

Beerguy: I have been here for over 12 years and there are only two people who have garnered a majority of positive comments from Farkers .

1. Harold Ramis

2. Tony Gwynn

For some reason I thought that Steven King would make the list considering his "lifetime body of work".

Farkers have once again proven to be a very tough bunch to impress.


#3 Weird Al
first time I EVER saw a negative word about him was this week, and I assume it was just someone being an opposite troll.
 
2014-07-19 03:42:48 PM  

hubiestubert: While I will agree that King has gone into the crapper over the last several years, that has more to do with the inability of editors to rein his more ponderous proclivities in.

King is a master at the short story. His short fiction is brilliant and concise, and hits like a sucker punch. His longer work tends towards the evocative and while it has a tendency to meander, it does so with a purpose. He has gotten into writing huge epic tales, with a patchwork of characters that tend to cross paths and it takes him a while to get them back into the plot, but the journey is generally a rewarding one, if you can ride the currents. The problem being, in his last few books, he's decided to focus his efforts on building characters that aren't terribly interesting. It is a decision to show inner life and motivations that while I can appreciate on one level as a writer, they don't make for particularly compelling storytelling.

King's On Writing is one of the go to books for anyone who even thinks they want to write. It is a no bullsh*t guide and memoir. It is the book I hand folks when they say, "I think I want to write." It is that good.

King has wallowed in his own creations, and sadly, doesn't have editors who have the guts to bring him to heel, to help him focus better. But King's excesses are still miles better than the sea of craptastic urban fantasy and thinly veiled romance novels that have werewolves and vampires and faeries that are masquerading as pseudo-horror today still.


I agree with you on the short stories, but I stopped reading King novels seriously when I was in high school, which I think is his target market.  He's a great intro to "horror" (at least the horror he puts out there), but after you get a little older, you realize that there are much better horror novels with much better writing, and King becomes an afterthought, there solely for nostalgia.
 
2014-07-19 03:44:26 PM  
I finished Mr. Mercedes a couple weeks ago. It wasn't his best, but was far from his worst. It was a nice change of pace from monsters and supernatural. At least there wasn't any of the "slap you in the face with Deus ex Machina" stuff that he seems to love so much lately.

I think I'm going to have to go with Under The Dome as one of the worst. I made it through all thousand pages and I just about threw it across the room when I was done, the ending was so stupid. (I also watched Season 1 of the TV show... Season 2 has been faithfully going to my DVR, but I just don't think I have it in me...)

Wind Through The Keyhole could have stood on its own in one of the 4x novella collections, I think, but he just  had to shoehorn it into DT for some stupid reason. "I'll write this story, it's fine and all, but... and stay with me here... what if  Roland was telling this story?"

/SK fanboy, got a couple autographed books, I love him to death, I buy everything he writes, but yeah, he's... less good... than he used to be.
//And he really needs to learn to not let anyone but Frank Darabont anywhere near his material.
///Still waiting on DT movie, Frank.
 
2014-07-19 03:48:03 PM  
"Longer than you think dad LONGER THAN YOU THINK"
ladyfingers they taste like ladyfingers"
"sometimes I think it would have been better if you had just let me fall"
 
2014-07-19 03:56:47 PM  

the cake is a pie: /SK fanboy, got a couple autographed books, I love him to death, I buy everything he writes, but yeah, he's... less good... than he used to be.
//And he really needs to learn to not let anyone but Frank Darabont anywhere near his material.
///Still waiting on DT movie, Frank.


Yeah, I still love him, and I have really enjoyed some of his more recent novels, too. I think my biggest problem is having been too weak to resist watching the terrible Mick Garris made for TV movies (excluding a few aspects of the Stand that were OK) . Now when I read a Stephen King novel, I end up picturing how ridiculous it would look if Mick Garris decided to be 100% faithful again and have the rows of floating cell phone zombies from "Cell," or the upside-down skittering lawn jockey from "Duma Key." I enjoyed both of those books, but those particular scenes made me cringe because instead of conjuring an image of how scary this stuff would look for reals, I conjured an image of how stupid it would look on a screen.
 
2014-07-19 03:58:02 PM  

the cake is a pie: I finished Mr. Mercedes a couple weeks ago. It wasn't his best, but was far from his worst. It was a nice change of pace from monsters and supernatural. At least there wasn't any of the "slap you in the face with Deus ex Machina" stuff that he seems to love so much lately.

I think I'm going to have to go with Under The Dome as one of the worst. I made it through all thousand pages and I just about threw it across the room when I was done, the ending was so stupid. (I also watched Season 1 of the TV show... Season 2 has been faithfully going to my DVR, but I just don't think I have it in me...)

Wind Through The Keyhole could have stood on its own in one of the 4x novella collections, I think, but he just  had to shoehorn it into DT for some stupid reason. "I'll write this story, it's fine and all, but... and stay with me here... what if  Roland was telling this story?"

/SK fanboy, got a couple autographed books, I love him to death, I buy everything he writes, but yeah, he's... less good... than he used to be.
//And he really needs to learn to not let anyone but Frank Darabont anywhere near his material.
///Still waiting on DT movie, Frank.


I loved "under the dome" until the ending. There had to be a better way to end it.

I haven't heard great things about the show. I hate when they deviate from the book so blatantly.
 
2014-07-19 04:00:20 PM  

Githerax: Tryfan: I thought his short stories were about as hit and miss as his novels. Some good ones, some dreck.

This line always stuck with me, though:

"The dog is loose again. It is not sleeping. It is not lazy. It's coming for you, Kevin.
It's very hungry. And it's VERY angry."

This is why I regard King as a hack.  This line is stupid and is written for stupid people:
1.  In its self-evident context, "Kevin" has prior knowledge and/or experience with "the dog" (as it is loose "again") and should not need most of this warning; "The dog is loose" should be sufficient.
2.  "Again" is only useful if the speaker had reason to think Kevin might not be aware of a change in the dog's state of incarceration.
3.  "It is not sleeping...lazy" is useless and redundant.  Kevin has no reason to think otherwise about "the dog", as was made clear by the implication in point 1.
4.  "Hungry" is implied in "it's coming for you"; or could be considered useless as the precise nature of the dog's motive isn't material to Kevin's choice of response.
5.  "Angry" might be the only useful descriptive word in the line, as it would negate any wishful speculation on Kevin's part as to the dog's present demeanor.

So, in summary:

"Kevin, the dog is loose again.  It's coming for you and it's very angry."  is about as good as that gets once you strip out the brainless, self-indulgent, fake "drama" that King was trying to imbue and also organize the line in a logical sequence of presentation.

Reading can either train your intelligence or drain it.  Why not read things that sharpen your thinking?  Why choose material that is dumbed down and, consequently, dumbs you down?  You might object that you read "to relax", and don't want to "work that hard", but that's the problem; smart literature is a chore to read if you're mentally lazy, but it is much more enjoyable *if* you've trained your intellectual strength.  You *literally* don't know what you're missing.


The only issue of import is whether the statement made in the book stayed true to the character speaking.
 
2014-07-19 04:05:15 PM  
Can  anyone do  anything? I mean, without someone on the internet saying it sucks?
 
2014-07-19 04:11:43 PM  
weknowmemes.com
 
2014-07-19 04:13:35 PM  
Take a Stephen King and make it into a movie, and it's probably going to suck.   Take a Stephen King book and read it, and you're probably going to be entertained.

Ever have a weird but entertaining dream that you try to explain to someone?  The more you talk, the dumber it sounds.  I think someone who can take those ideas and make them fun to read is probably a good writer, but I never sold 11 novels.
 
2014-07-19 04:26:41 PM  
I'm about halfway through "Dr. Sleep" which isn't half bad.
Finished "Joyland" last week. Not bad.

He is still entertaining.

I did enjoy "11-22-63".

He just hasn't written anything in years that has completely blown me away.
 
2014-07-19 04:27:34 PM  
For someone who can't write, he sure makes  shiat farking tons of cash doing it.
 
2014-07-19 04:37:04 PM  
Too much cocaine? Or not enough?


Spare Me: For someone who can't write, he sure makes  shiat farking tons of cash doing it.


So does Dan Brown, Dean Koontz, Grisham, Crichton, etc. Book sales do not a great writer make.
 
2014-07-19 04:41:21 PM  
I'm not a Stephen King fan, but "can't write" is a stupid thing to say.
 
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