What Stephen King Taught Me

Stephan King


Stephen King wrote a seminal work on fantasy fiction writing—a memoir of the craft on writing by the same name: Stephen King: A memoir of the Craft – On Writing.

When I decided to write fantasy fiction, instead of just dreaming about it, I decided the best place to start would be with Stephen King. Who better to learn from but a master fiction writer?  So, I purchased his book in the year 2005, read it several times, high-lighted tantalizing concepts, tabbed with sticky writable tabs until I had outlined the entire book.  I soon learned that reading about writing, tabbing every conceivable point of interest does not necessarily create a master fiction writer or even a mediocre fiction writer.

So, I stopped reading books on writing and just started reading books I loved: Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Edgar Allen Poe, Harry Potter, Hans Christian Anderson, and so many others.  I happily read a lot of books—good, I thought, know I can start writing. Nope.  Even though I looked at the world through fantasy colored glasses, I had a terrible fear of ineptitude.  I was the student who couldn’t spell, never learned phonics, didn’t know a consonant from a vowel, and a homonym is what? Regardless, I managed to get a Bachelor’s, a Master’s, and even a PhD.  I was a competent mimic.

So, what did Stephen King teach me? Stephen King taught me how to trust my instincts when he wrote, “stories are found things, like fossils in the ground.”  “Stories”, writes King, “are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world.”  Stephen taught me to lean heavily on my intuition, my inner sense of things without the mimicking and sense of ineptitude.

Well, that’s great I thought, because I walk through this world wearing fantasy colored glasses where every nook and cranny is rich with fantastical possibilities—like magical stones, talking trees, whispering air, mumbling water, and things, like humans, who walk the earth.