The 17 classic stories that taught Stephen King how to write

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Marc Bernardin
Dec 17, 2012

No one, not even a master storyteller, simply knows how to write. He's learned how to write; learned from paying attention in the world, learned from other, better writers (and other worse ones). In a letter to a public library, Stephen King rattled off his list of influences, and some prove rather surprising.

He delineates his influences in terms of the disciplines they helped him master. When it comes to plot, for example, Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was seminal, as was Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest for character. And William Faulkner's Light in August taught him how to firmly establish setting, a world for those characters and that plot to unspool in.

There are more titles that helped King build his writer's tool chest in the 1992 letter below. If you're thinking about building a summer reading list, you could do a lot worse.

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