In your book On Writing [On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft] you mention that you plot out your stories "as infrequently as possible." How can a writer write anything without having a plot in mind?
I have a general story idea ... a situation. That's where I like to start. Then I let it play out. And that always works as long as I'm honest about what my characters would do in a given situation. If you start to make characters do things because it would be more convenient for you, things wander off course.
What themes do you see running through all your works?
I would say that if there's one theme that runs through my work, it would be, Live according to the truth and try to be brave. And, It's better to do the right thing than the wrong thing, even at costs.
Your books are filled to the brim with suspense. Is there any formula that you use to build up the suspense in a book?
The most important thing about building suspense is building identification with the character. You have to take some time and make your reader care about the characters in the story. I'm thinking about Misery, where you've got this writer, Paul Sheldon, and little by little you get to know this guy and understand him and you get to see different aspects of him. Then you start to empathize with him and you start to put yourself in his shoes and then you start to be very, very afraid because you don't want anything bad to happen to him. But because it's the kind of story that it is, you know that something bad is gonna happen. So one by one you close off the exits and things get more and more nerve-racking until finally there's an explosion.
What, if anything, scares you?
Scary things are personal. Clowns have freaked me out and scared me ever since I was a kid. To me there's something scary, something sinister about such a figure of happiness and fun. I guess that sometimes what makes a scary thing really scary is when we realize there's something sinister behind a nice face.
Many of the characters in your novels meet untimely ends. Do you ever feel bad about having to kill off a character?
Yeah. Yeah, I do. My characters become very real to me. I wrote a series of books called The Dark Tower, and I lived with those characters from the age of about 22 up until when I finished the last one when I was 56. That's like 34 years all told. I'd been with some of those characters longer than I've been with my children. Some of them had to die and that was tough. 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.
Source Citation: King, Stephen and Bryon Cahill. "Stephen King: Halloween's Answer to Santa Claus." Writing. 28.2 (2005, Oct. ) 8-13. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism Select. Detroit: Gale, 8-13. Literature Resource Center. Gale. BERNARDSVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY. 4 Sept. 2008
Gale Document Number: GALEH1100074413