I had always thought that writer was none other than the great Stephen King. That was just my thinking. But now I have second thoughts about that. Obvious, the more one writes the better he or she will get. I believe I'm getting better all the time. I do think King has gotten better.He out sells me. I have read good books and I have read some that were just plain awful stuff. And the awful material has been or still is on the New York Times all time best selling lists for weeks. I'm still struggle to get there, myself. My books are very good. I have read some of the bestselling authors, only to find their books littered with mistakes of all kind but that didn't bother me. Those particular stories just didn't hold my attention. And I love a great fictional crime story.

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Best sellers are not always good books, but Stephen King is good at what he does. A lot of people will tell you so and many of them are writers.
It's hard to judge because once it gets past the editors and published, the value is in the eye and the pocketbook of the beholder. Some readers live for the formula series, others for cozy passive/agressive, do-gooding vampires. And the reality of making a living by the key stroke is that writers who produce one seminnal work every ten years have to be independently wealthy or live in their parents basement.
Don't sell King short. He has some formidable strengths, most notably his eye for the perfect detail--the one that brings a scene or a character alive, or the one that goes straight into the reptile brain and sends the fear right into you.
Over on DorothyL someone said that there is a difference between King's writing before he quit drinking and after. I've read one or two of his books and liked them very much (Bag of Bones sticks in my mind) but several others turned me off. However, I love his book, On Writing, and I quote it a lot when I speak to writers groups or schools.
I agree with J.D., Stephen King has some great strengths as a writer. A couple weeks ago I read Hearts in Atlantis, which not many people (probably not even King himself) would put in his top ten, but there were sections of that book that were incredibly good. The part that took place at the University of Maine in 1966 is some of the best writing about the emergence of new ideas in young people (hey, you could almost call it coming of age) The beginnings of the turbulent "sixties" on campus.

Also, the way he uses dialogue, and local expressions and jargon, is great.

Now, American Psycho is whole other discussion. Just remember, all the action in the book takes place inside tha character's head and doesn't really happen -- just like the movie Barton Fink (and maybe Taxi Driver, but that's a WHOLE other discussion).
I agree with the others about King. I like some of his writing — particularly his short stories.

I also agree about American Psycho, and pretty much anything by Bret Easton Ellis.

A writer I've always had trouble with is Frank Herbert. Don't know why, but I've started Dune four or five times and never finished.

There are also certain mystery writers, generally regarded as good authors, whose books I just can't get through.
Someone once said that if you want to write a best seller, write it for people whose lips move when they read.
I thought that TALISMAN by King and Straub was fabulous. If i read it before I went to sleep, I would have the most incredible dreams. I don't know if I am getting better -- I go back and read some of my earlier books and find them much better than I thought they were when I wrote them. I have the dubious distinction of having won an Edgar on my first book -- a tough debut to follow. I always wanted to do something "new" with every genre attempted, but that is difficult when writing "true crime" within the contraints of my the mass market formatics.
You could do a lot worse than Stephen King. My only two complaints about his writing are his endings and his occasional wordiness. But when he's on, like THE SHINING for example (not the movie, the book!), he is amazing.

BAG OF BONES is another well told tale.

The guy has range, too. What can't he write better than most people?

He says he gets 2,000 words a day. I think if he slowed down to 1,000--or at least edited more thoroughly, he'd be even better.

The "worst writer in the world" is probably someone sitting in the slush pile, and we'll never hear about them.
I'm reading my first Stephen King novel now--the expanded version of THE STAND.

Just a few pages in, I was thinking Wait a minute... he doesn't suck!

A few more pages, and I was thinking This guy's really good!

He doesn't always get the perfect word, but he regularly nails the perfect thought.
Hi Keith!! This is Burl! I loved The Stand, although King admitted it was his Apocalypse Now -- he didnt know how to end it. If you want a real treat, I strongly suggest TALISMAN. Meanwhile, watch out for Randal Flagg!

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Burl

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