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Stephen King's Writing Style

Updated on March 24, 2020
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Prachi has worked as a freelance writer since 2012. When not writing, she helps people with web design and development.

Stephen King along with the poster of IT
Stephen King along with the poster of IT

We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.

— Stephen King

His Legacy

Stephen King’s writing style has made him a legacy as a bestselling author under the horror and psychological fiction genre. His work has made us identify with his dynamic and three-dimensional characters. His stories are, certainly, captivating and memorable for habitual and non-habitual book enthusiasts. Considering his novel “Carrie”, the protagonist is a high-school girl who is excluded from society because she’s different from the rest. This pretty sums up the reality of our world, almost everyone during adolescent years have faced rejection and isolation whether its by their peers or family members. This leads to mental stress making them suffer from emotional abuse and depriving them of healthy support.

Published in 1974, his first novel, Carrie, was produced as a collaboration of several letters to depict realism. King also wrote several snippets inspired by news clipping, the passage from books, magazine articles and much more to connect the novel with real life-based incidents.

Besides the stories, the way his characters are portrayed, they are substantially identical with the real human beings. If you ever got hold of one his books, you know you sympathize with them because of their perfectly imperfect human traits that are relatable with you or someone you know. For example, his character in IT is a poor girl, Beverly Marsh, who is abused by her father, in The Stand the protagonist Nick Andros is a deaf-mute and in The Shining, Wendy Torrance is portrayed as Jack’s wife, who is in deep suffering.

His novel IT, published in 1986, is a trademark of the horror genre. The story revolves around seven children, who are in a traumatized condition because of an eponymous being. The story swings between two time periods and mostly narrated in third-person. The novel is significant as it shows King’s favorite themes: childhood suffering, nostalgia, and the barbaric environment in the disguise of a dogmatic being.

Avoid extended metaphors. Make a quick comparison and get on with it.

— Stephen King on Twitter

Distinguish Use of Metaphors

Metaphor is a literal device used in poems and other writings to compare independent subjects, having rare similarity, in an assertive manner.

King has beautifully symbolized most of the work with extended metaphors. The extended metaphor means to compare the entire context of work to an independent subject. One of the best examples is The Green Mile. In this, the protagonist is John Coffey, who has a gantry figure and is an African-American living the life in the style of Jesus Christ. Coffee has the power to heal the sick but, later dies because of the atrocious crimes. The story is based on a depressing world of prison.

The story also details the magical realism genre. In other words, King has introduced the magical elements taking place in a realistic and ordinary environment.

Another example of strong metaphors is in The Stand, where King has significantly intensified the novel by using Randall Flagg and satan coalition. The horrifying clown in IT is also portrayed in association with Satan that demonstrates our childhood fears and how we can free ourselves from them to live better lives.

Published in 1983, Christine describes the story of a peculiar yet classic car that runs through ghostly powers. According to King, car symbolizes responsibility that turns an innocent child into a careful and anxious adult. In short, it is a sign of “end of innocence”.

His other groundbreaking novel, The Shawshank Redemption displays the lascivious posters of Rita Hayworth along with other glam girls. This shows a contradiction to the life of prisoners, who yearn to live a normal life once again and fulfill their powerful desires. The holes in the wall further add support to the metaphorical representation of posters that conceal the holes from the prison guards.

The novel also inspired the movie with the same name, which gained huge recognition and wide acclamation and still cherished by the audience of every generation.

A tangle of Conflict with Suspense

All notable work of literature is famous because of their memorable conflict, suspense, and mystified anticipation. Undoubtedly, King is the leader of the integration of these elements into his novels.

His character arcs are believable as well as realistic. It is wonderful to realize how a certain dynamic character changes in response to the events and thereafter, experiences psychological change by adapting to the new environment.

His writing style connects us with the characters leading us to sympathize with their situation and get involved in their life. Certainly, only a true writer knows how to achieve this balance of realism through his writing.

One striking example that I like to mention here is from The Shining. In the end, the story turns emotional when Jack Torrance tries to regain his best and asks his son Danny to run away and always remember how much he loves him. Though Torrance is a serial criminal under the possession of evil, his father side remains untamed, which can’t be stolen from him under any circumstances.

The Shining is considered to be his first-ever bestselling novel. He took inspiration from several horror stories including The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco, and The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe.

If anyone ever wishes to dive into the horror and psychological fiction genres or want to write a novel based on realistic surroundings, Stephen King’s work is the perfect answer. By going through his style, novice, as well as experienced writers, can enrich their writing style to introduce their work as eminent popular literature.

© 2019 Prachi Sharma


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    • Erudite Scholar profile image

      Jeff Zod 

      13 months ago from Nairobi

      Hi Prachi,

      This is a very interesting article. I love Stephen King's books so much. I would love to watch the Shining or read the book. Thank you so much for analysing one of my favorite authors.


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