Stephen King Quotes

As a writer, I’ve always been confrontational. I’ve never been cool, I’ve never been calculating. My idea is to come up to you, grab you by the lapels and say: I have this story. I want to tell it to you, and when you hear it, you’re not going to want to cook dinner, you’re not going to want to clean the house, you’re going to not want to go to your job. You’re just going to want to read this story and care about what comes next.- SK

They are plenty of people who have got lots of talent. This world is lousy with talent. The idea is to work that talent and try to get to be the best person that you can, given the limits of that talent that God gave you-or fate, or genetics or whatever name you want to put on it.- SK

A lot of people have suggested that the stuff that I do may be second-class because there’s so much of it. My response to that is: I’m going to quit and be dead for a long time. This is the time that I’ve got, and I want to use it to the max. I really want to try and mine everything that I’ve got.- SK

I’m very interested in the actual act of dying, which is the last great human action that we have in our lives. It’s the one event in our lives that no one can describe adequately because nobody comes back to talk about it.- SK

An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.-SK

The best first line I ever wrote is the opening of ‘Needful Things’. Printed by itself on a page in 20-point type: “You’ve been here before”. All there by itself on one page, inviting the reader to keep reading. It suggests a familiar story.-SK

If I can get that first paragraph right, I’ll know I can do the book.-SK

You can never bend reality to serve the fiction. You have to bend the fiction to serve reality-SK

One hopes that the stories and the characters stand out.-SK

…And even the antique things have a certain value.-SK

What are we afraid of, as humans? Chaos? The outsider. We’re afraid of change. We’re afraid of disruption, and that is what I’m interested in.-SK

If I had to predict which of my books people will pick up a hundred years from now, if they pick up any, I’d begin with The Stand, and The Shining. And ‘Salem’s Lot.-SK

I think that IT is the most Dickensian of my books because of its wide range of characters and intersecting stories. The novel manages a lot of complexity in an effortless way that I often wish that I could rediscover.-SK

Writing is a wonderful thing to be able to do. When it goes well, it’s fantastic, and when it doesn’t go so well, it’s only OK, but it’s still a great way to pass the time.-SK

I get inspiration, a lot of times, from very commonplace things that just strike a chord and develop themselves in the subconscious.-SK

The worst advice? “Don’t listen to the critics.” I think that you really ought to listen to the critics, because sometimes they’re telling you something is broken that you can fix.-SK

People do like to be entertained, and one of the things that people like is a safe scare. Now, me? I really like to have an emotional response from my readers…It’s a very aggressive thing to do. What can I say? It’s me.-SK

The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.-SK

I think the best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event, which is to say character-driven.-SK

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.-SK

The battle between good and evil is endlessly fascinating because we are participants every day.-SK

So where do the ideas-the salable ideas-come from? They come from my nightmares. Not the night time variety, as a rule, but the ones that hide just beyond the doorway that separates the conscious from the unconscious.-SK

I can’t do anything else. And every day I marvel that I can get money for doing something I enjoy so much.-SK

Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.-SK

What you write ought to be about something you care about. Why else would you spend all that time and expend all that effort?-SK

Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work.-SK

When evil is vanquished in a book, most of us feel cathartic triumph.-SK

I think I’m a naturally fearful person, and I think that conquering our fears makes us a better person.-SK

I never started a book that I expected to finish. Because it always feels like a job that’s much too big for a little guy like me.-SK

If there’s one theme that runs through my work, it would be, Live according to the truth and try to be brave.-SK

You do have to be a little nuts to be a writer at all because you have to imagine worlds that aren’t there.-SK

Life is like a wheel. Sooner or later, it always comes around to where you started again.-SK

As a goal in life, ‘getting rich’, strikes me as fairly ludicrous. The goal is to do what God made you for and not hurt anyone if you can help it.-SK

Writers are often the worst judges of what they have written.-SK

If a novel is not an entertainment, I don’t think it’s a successful book.-SK

Every book you pick up has its own lesson or lessons, and quite often the bad books have more to teach than the good ones.-SK

I’m not a fast writer, but I stick to it. I write 1,500 words a day, and the stuff just piles up. It’s a constant secretion . I have the feeling that if I stop, I won’t be able to do it again.-SK

I’m a writer, you know. I’m not a performer, and when I get out in front of a lot of people I get a little bit nervous and a little bit self conscious. It’s strange to think that so many people actually want to come out to see somebody who’s not Justin Bieber.- SK

I see myself as Stephen King. I’m an American novelist, and that’s it.-SK

I have always rejected the idea that reading books causes somebody to do something that they otherwise would not have done. I think that those people find their trigger.- SK

If you can read in the 21st century, you own the world.-SK

If you asked me at 40, did I have a drawer full of ideas, I’d have said, ‘Yes I do.’ Now at 66, the ideas still come and I’m thankful…but not at the same speed and without the same kind of hit by lightning impact.-SK

As a writer, I’ve always been extremely conscious of my place. I’ve never tried to be highfalutin or to put myself on a level with my betters. I’m serious about what I do, but I never wanted to indicate to anybody that I was better than what I was.- SK

The writer must have a good imagination to begin with, but the imagination has to be muscular, which means it must be exercised in a disciplined way, day in and day out, by writing, failing, succeeding and revising.-SK

Writers must be fair and remember even bad guys (most of them, anyway) see themselves as good- they are heroes of their own lives. Giving them a fair chance as characters can create some interesting shades of gray-and shades of gray are also a part of life.-SK

I never write ideas down. Because all you do when you write ideas down is kind of immortalize something that should go away. If they’re bad ideas, they go away on their own.-SK

So anybody can screw up at any time, and I’ve done my share because I’ve written a lot. But you just show up every day, and you do the best that you can and hope people understand. And sooner or later, if you do it long enough and if you work hard enough, they mostly do.-SK

Of course, personal experience is the foundation of writing.-SK

I like to write short stories more because I never met a writer who wasn’t lazy. And a short story is, by its very definition, short. It is something that generally you can turn out in a week to two weeks depending on how well it goes for you. But, at the same time, it gives the same satisfaction of creating a complete world.-SK


You try to grow as a writer and not just do the same thing over and over again, because there’s absolutely no point to that.-SK
Other people will hang tags on me like the horrormeister, the schlokmeister, or the fearmeister, the master of suspense, the master of horror. But I’ve never said what it is that I do, and I don’t write letters complaining about these tags , because then it sounds like I’m trying to put on airs and make myself sound like something I’m not.-SK

The act of writing is very hypnotic. It’s like dreaming awake.-SK

The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting.-SK

I believe each story should be allowed to unfold at its own pace, and that pace is not always double time. Nevertheless, you need to beware-if you slow the pace down too much, even the most patient reader is apt to grow restless.-SK

Over the course of the years I have developed a deeper spiritual understanding of things, but is there an actual God who listens to those prayers? I don’t know. But I’m an optimist, so why not? What does it hurt if you go ahead and believe that there is a force out there that is working for good? It is an immensely comforting idea.-SK

I also like to think that I’m being “discovered” by younger readers, but who really knows? Certainly I haven’t evolved as a writer by consciously trying to evolve; I just keep writing and hoping to find good new stories.-SK

My method for starting anything is I tell myself the story when I’m lying in bed at night, waiting to go to sleep.-SK

The idea of posterity for a writer is poison, don’t you think?-SK

I reject the idea that I’ve explored everything in the room.- SK

I don’t really get philosophical, but I believe that nice people are strong and usually in my horror stories, I don’t like to write about the old standard where some rotten guy gets chased by a mean spirit that gets him in the end. I’d rather write about nice people that are menaced from outside by some sort of evil power and who sort of slug it out like Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. And I like to think that good people win.-SK

A writing class will not teach you to write. The only things that can teach writing are reading, writing and the semi-domestication of one’s muse. These are all activities one must pursue alone.-SK

For sure my audience has grown older with me, and to a greater or lesser degree, wiser. Certainly more sophisticated.-SK

I think if you have mental problems what you need are good pills. But I do think if you have things that bother you, things that are unresolved, the more that you talk about them, write about them, the less serious they become. At least that’s how I see my work in retrospect.-SK

But to this day I distrust anybody who thought school was a good time. ANYBODY. You can be happy at 8 or even at 28. But if you say you were happy at 16, I’d say you were a fucking liar, or you were abnormal, disturbed…-SK

Anybody will tell you that imaginary friends are as real as real people sometimes. Lucky for me, I still know the difference or else they’d put me away in a room.-SK

Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work-SK

I still like stories and stories take me away and I write the ones that I can’t find in the bookstores.-SK

What I want the audience to do is fall in love with these people and really care about them and that creates the suspense you need. Love creates horror.-SK

I think I have a greater grasp on my narrative powers than I used to have (that’ll start to degrade in another 10 years or so, as the gray cells begin dying at a faster and faster rate), but I still refuse to recognize any limits to my gift. I think it’s important to keep on pushing the envelope.-SK

I don’t know if I want to be treated seriously, per se, because in the end posterity decides whether it’s good work or whether it’s bad work or whether it’s lasting work.-SK

The act of writing stories hasn’t been new for me in a long time, but that doesn’t mean it’s lost its fascination.-SK

I do two different kinds of books. I think of books like The Stand, 
Desperation, and The Dark Tower series as books that go out. Then there are books like Pet SemataryMisery,The Shining, and Dolores Claiborne that go in. Fans usually will either like the outies or they’ll like the innies. But they won’t like both.-SK

I think that I lost some readers at various points. It was just a natural process of attrition, that’s all. People go on, they find other things. Though I also think that I have changed as a writer over the years, in the sense that I’m not providing exactly the same level of escape that ’Salem’s LotThe Shining, or even The Stand does. There are people out there who would have been perfectly happy had I died in 1978, the people who come to me and say, Oh, you never wrote a book as good as The Stand. I usually tell them how depressing it is to hear them say that something you wrote twenty-eight years ago was your best book.-SK

And I can afford to lose fans. That sounds totally conceited, but I don’t mean it that way: I can lose half of my fan base and still have enough to live on very comfortably. I’ve had the freedom to follow my own course, which is great. I might have lost some fans, but I might’ve gained some too.-SK

I’m always interested in what my readers think, and I’m aware that many of them want to participate in the story. I don’t have a problem with that, just so long as they understand that what they think isn’t necessarily going to change what I do. That is, I’m never going to say, I’ve got this story, here it is. Now here’s a poll. How do you think I should end it?-SK

All my characters are partly me and partly what I see in other people. The character most unlike me is probably Roland in the Dark Tower Stories.-SK

I hardly ever research anything unless I absolutely have to, and I’ve gotten a little bit more paranoid about that. It’s okay to go pretty much on your imagination if a lot of people aren’t reading you, but once it piles up to the point where I am right now, if you screw up anything, somebody knows. I’ve gotten my hands burned a couple of times.-SK

I think the advice “Don’t listen to the critics” is a sort of defensive thing that says if you stick your head in the sand, you won’t have to hear any bad news and you won’t have to see any bad news and you won’t have to change what you’re doing. But if you listen, sometimes you can get rid of a bad habit. And hey, critics … none of us like ’em, but if they’re all saying something’s a piece of shit, they’re right.-SK

As far as where I go when I die, the concept that I am simple going to flick out, like a light bulb, to me is not only spiritually impossible to believe, but logically it is laughable — the idea that we simply die and nothing happens.-SK

I’ve never fooled myself that I’m going to have much popularity beyond my lifetime. There may be one or two books that people read later on.-SK

They pay me absurd amounts of money for something that I would do for free.-SK

You know what’s bizarre? I did the Savannah Book Fair last week…. This is happening to me more and more. I walked out and I got a standing ovation from all these people, and it’s like a creepy thing… either you’ve become a cultural icon, or they are applauding the fact that you are not dead yet.-SK

In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it ‘got boring,’ the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep the ball rolling.-SK

A lot of the old timers, the critics who really greeted my work with disain, died off. And the people who are critics now, a lot of them I scared the hell out of when they were kids and they respect that.-SK

In the case of ‘Carrie,’ it was a good book to start with. It was the case of a misfit. And everybody [has] felt that way at one time or another.-SK

To me, every ant, cloud and star seems to proclaim that there is more to existence than we know. I suppose that sounds like naturism and pantheism, and to some degree it is, but I also believe in a power greater than myself. If I die and that turns out to be wrong, there’s this advantage: I’ll never know.-SK

In truth, I hardly ever consider the audience at all. And I don’t think it’s wise to. I have a built-in desire to please; that should be enough. Beyond that, I’m just trying to amuse myself. Usually that amuses others, too. Which makes me a lucky man.-SK

You can’t keep your imagination in a box. It’s not a domestic animal. You have to train it to come at certain times of day. Mostly it does, and sometimes it doesn’t. Mostly it does what you want it to do, and sometimes it behaves very badly. Anybody who has done this for a living can tell you it’s a double edged sword, that if you spend enough time working with your imagination and training it to think up really terrible things, when your kids are late coming home your mind doesn’t immediately go to the idea of, oh, they must have won the lottery and are out celebrating somewhere. You think of the worst thing you can possibly think of. So, yes, your mind goes to bad places.-SK

I read a lot. I’m still in love with what I do, with the idea of making things up, so hours when I write always feel like very blessed hours to me.-SK

The nice thing about what I do is it’s kind of like psychoanalysis turned inside out. If you have fears and anxieties you go to a psychiatrist and pay maybe $120 an hour to vent those fears, whereas I put my fears down on paper and people pay me.-SK

When I’m not writing, I tend to dream a lot. Some of the dreams are very unpleasant. I have a theory that, once you train your mind to fantasize, you can’t turn it off. It runs on its own circuit so that if you’re not venting by writing stories or making things up, it tends to go under your subconscious and come out as dreaming.-SK

I should rewrite all ‘The Dark Tower’ books because they’re really one novel. They were produced almost without editing. I would really like to go back and pick up all those inconsistencies, speed up some of the action, add things and take things away. But there wouldn’t be huge changes.-SK

I had a bad accident in 1999. A van hit me and I nearly died. I’m really grateful that I got to come back. I turned into a human cabbage because I hit my head pretty hard. In 2002, I was still in a lot of pain. Creative flow and writing was difficult. I was not in a happy place. I thought, probably the best thing to do was retire. The one thing I don’t want to do is overstay my welcome, when it gets old and I feel as though I have said everything I have to say. I want to very quietly leave. I felt like that time had come in 2002. Then my body did a miracle. I became interested in my craft again. The ideas started flowing and here I am.-SK

I’m a confrontational writer. I want to be in your face. I want to get into your space. I want to get within kissing distance, hugging distance, choking distance, punching distance. Call it whatever you want. But I want your attention.-SK

I’ve always wondered who I am when I write, because once I’m doing it, I’m not in the room with myself.-SK

At some point I think every writer of scary stories has to tackle the subject of premature burial, if only because it seems to be such a pervasive fear.-SK

I want to make you laugh or cry when you read a story…or do both at the same time. I want your heart, in other words.-SK

There’s an idea that Hell is other people. My idea is that it might be repetition.-SK

As well as the ever-popular premature burial, every writer of shock/suspense tales should write at least one story about the Ghostly Room At The Inn.-SK

An awful lot of the people who read “The Shining” were, like, 14 years old. They were at summer camp. They read it under the covers with a flashlight on. And, you know, in a way, being scared is like sex. There’s nothing like your first time.-SK

Well, I think that I’ve gotten a little more sophisticated in my writing ability. I want to try to keep what I’m doing fresh.-SK

My main job is to tell stories and to be a storyteller. And what I feel about spirituality, the afterlife, this life are things that should come through in the book. But I don’t put up any billboards.-SK

I’d say that what I do is like a crack in the mirror. If you go back over the books from Carrie on up, what you see is an observation of ordinary middle-class American life as it’s lived at the time that particular book was written. In every life you get to a point where you have to deal with something that’s inexplicable to you, whether it’s the doctor saying you have cancer or a prank phone call. So whether you talk about ghosts or vampires or Nazi war criminals living down the block, we’re still talking about the same thing, which is an intrusion of the extraordinary into ordinary life and how we deal with it. What that shows about our character and our interactions with others and the society we live in interests me a lot more than monsters and vampires and ghouls and ghosts.-SK

I write about things that scare me. I’ve never written a snake story in my life. I read a good one called Mountain King awhile back; but, I myself have never written a story about snakes because they don’t scare me. I write about rats because they scare the hell out of me. I think we tend to write out our phobias.-SK

There’s one novel, Cujo, that I barely remember writing at all. I don’t say that with pride or shame, only with a vague sense of sorrow and loss. I like that book. I wish I could remember enjoying the good parts as I put them down on the page.-SK