Thursday, August 30, 2012

I Write Like Stephen King (Seriously!)

Thanks to a former colleague of mine providing a link to I Write Like, I can now with a good deal of confidence say that I have that much more in common with Stephen King.

Let me start with the similarities.  King grew up in Durham, ME, and attended Lisbon High School.  Several decades later, I also attended Lisbon High School.  Ah, yes, many people can say that.  I had the teacher who famously told King he couldn't write very well (she taught me, among other things, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, and I wrote a bad English parable and some dude named William for her; I liked her just fine, and for the record, her name was Prudence Grant).  I also ended up attending the University of Maine in Orono (at one time abbreviated as UMO, but later revised as UMaine, because we're the, ah, main campus), to which King is an alumnus, and wrote for the Maine Campus, which King did, and for the opinion section, which King did.

For the record, he did come back during my time there, to make a speech about somesuch.  I was offered to do an on-camera interview for a local news station about it (mostly because I had arrived early and sat near the back), but politely declined.  I'm weird like that.

Some ten years later, I follow a link and have several pages of Monorama analyzed, and it comes up reading like Stephen King.  Now, part of that may seem not so surprising.  I mean, we attended several of the same schools, had at least one teacher in common.  Ah, well, I guess it's a little beyond the reach.  Regionally, perhaps, some of the same language seeped into us, which is something I would certainly like to believe, because I've always wanted to believe I had a certain brand of culture behind me.  Most people who think of Maine think of Mainahs and chowdah and lobstas, but that's on the coast.  I suppose there's a certain amount of small town life that exists throughout Maine, except for places like Portland (home of the Sea Dogs) and Augusta (the capital), maybe in a few more communities here and there.

King is known for horror, but by the time I started reading him (strangely, not in high school, where his books occupied a special case in the library, where I regularly volunteered and spent free time), I understood that he approached his fiction from a very folksy perspective, which resonates throughout The Stand, for instance (this is the same vibe that The Walking Dead attempts to emulate, which original show runner Frank Darabont has done successfully several times on film).  I suppose that perspective is entirely appropriate, given what I've just explained about Maine.

While at times I've attempted to emulate his Constant Reader approaching to talking about things, I never thought that I wrote all that much like King.  Perhaps it's because I still haven't really immersed myself in his books.  I've read maybe a half dozen.  Therefore, when I think about him, it's more about his ideas and perspective.  I'm just realizing as I write this that those are the two things that I always strive to emphasize myself.  Maybe I Write Like isn't so crazy after all!

But I'm not telling you I'm destined to be as successful as Stephen King.  King became a huge success because he wrote visceral stories, especially at the start of his career, which were easily categorized as horror, which no writer had done successfully in American fiction since Edgar Allan Poe.  He was a breath of fresh air that critics maybe didn't understand, but readers completely got.  It wasn't until King pulled away a little and just started writing about people in peculiar circumstances that the character of his writing really rose to the surface.

If I was in wrestling, the solution to success would be to start marketing myself as Tony King, Stephen's kid brother.



  1. That's really interesting Tony. Stephen King does a a very unique style to his writing. I wonder how my writing would be analyzed.

  2. I did that a while back. I forget which one it said. It might also have Stephen King.


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