Thursday, January 25, 2007

How to Write (or Avoid Writing) Like Stephen King by Lucien Spelman


I love The King. I have read almost all of his work, I am in the middle of Lisey’s Story right now, and I often quote from The Dark Tower books. However… Stephen King has a formula of style. It’s a formula I love, but it is a formula nonetheless, and I have been reading so much of The Master of the Macabre lately, that his stylistic approach has ingrained itself into my psyche, and if I’m not careful it will ingrain itself into my writing as well.

In order to avoid this, I will unfold pages of his blueprint for this blog, and thus, hopefully, recognize and circumvent using his methods in the future by expelling them from my unconsciousness mind.

There are a few elements which one must follow if one wants to write (or avoid writing) like Stephen King:

1: Whenever possible a new section should be started with lyrics from a slightly out of date, and/or slightly obscure Rock Musician or Band.

2: Part of the language of the work must be constructed within the confines of the story being told. In other words, invented words or modified regional colloquialisms must be created and referred to throughout the story in order for the reader to feel as though they are an Insider.

3: The invented words, if possible, should have a back-story of their own relating to one or more of the characters.

4: An internal dialogue must take place within the head of the narrator, protagonist, or antagonist, and the above mentioned created “private” language must be used in said dialogue. If the narrator, protagonist, or antagonist question whether inner dialogue is from a source outside of themselves, so much the better. The internal dialogue should be formatted in italics rather than quotes to avoid confusion.

5: All action should occur in New England. If it does not occur in New England, the narrator, protagonist, or antagonist should at least be on their way to or from New England.

6: Paragraphs should be interrupted with abrupt parenthetical or italicized asides relating to previous action in the story. This gives the reader a feeling of thrilling uneasiness.

With all these elements in place then, my Stephen King style blog for this week should look something like this:

“She did a triple somersault and when she hit the ground, she winked at the audience and then she turned around.

She had a picture of a cowboy tattooed on her spine saying Phoenix, Arizona, nineteen forty-nine.”

- The Coasters, Little Egypt

The last few days have been ball-busters here at BBT Magazine. The next issue is wrapped and at the printer, but we’re staying very, very busy with the new t-shirt line from Christoffer Saar (you should see more this week or so), and the new Chapbooks that Pete Tzee is working on, and it’s been cold here in Massachusetts – cold enough to freeze a witch’s tits my mom would’ve said, God rest her soul.

You got that right, mom.

You got that right.

Besides the cold though, things have been good, just busy.


We’ve aimed ourselves at the New York ComicCon this Feb, and we intend to interview a few of the guest there for forthcoming issues. We have obtained press passes, and get to arrive a few hours before everyone on Fri, so we have a shot at interviewing and mingling with such luminaries as Stan Lee, Kevin Smith, George R. R. Martin, J. Michael Strazynski, and of course The King himself, Stephen King.

I just hope the cold let’s up.

Cold enough to freeze a witch’s tits.

Thanks mom.

Until next time,


- Lucien

1 comment:

Gregory Adams said...

Well done, but you left out King's transparent use of research-- y'know, where all of his characters explain every detail of their jobs or the tasks at hand? Don't get me wrong, I think if a character is a cop he should know something about law enforcement & procedure but in a King book, the guy's going to vomit a huge pile of facts all in one go right when they are needed.

Christ, after reading 'From a Buick 8' I felt I could pass the State Trooper Exam.