Huffington Post Blog Accuses Stephen King Of Not Being Able To Write

Michael Conniff posted a blog post at Huffington Post titled, "Why Stephen King Can't Write." (

Conniff declares that he likes everything Stephen King stands for, and cites a list that really has nothing to do with things King actually "stands" for.  Like -- He has a library next to his house.  Well, if that's the case, put me on the list, I also stand for having libraries next to your house!  I stand with you both!

Wait, you might be wondering who it is that Huff Post has decided is worthy of the platform of smashing Stephen King.  Michael Conniff is a well known author.  In fact, he's sold 11 books.  Not 11 million.  Not 11,000.  11.  ELEVEN.

So exactly how does the esteemed author think Stephen King has failed the writing world?  (Never mind that Stephen King actually wrote the book On Writing!)
Of course, after pointing out that Stephen King has sold a few more books than he has, Conniff resorts to telling ust hat sales don't matter, only the words on the paper matter.  And that might be true, but in the world of writing, readers  are the judge of those words.  And it appears the American public judges King worthy of continued sales.  And, 11 people have bought Mr. Conniff's books.  11.

Conniff builds his case on King's latest novel, Mr. Mercedes.  This is frustrating because King used a different style for Mercedes than his usual third person past tense.  Everything is told in present tense in Mercedes, a style King has never used for an entire novel.  So to judge the whole of his work, his ability to write, on this one novel seems like nothing more than a sulky uneducated jealous writer wanting to get some punches in on the big guy.  (Thanks Huffington Post for giving Conniff the platform to do this.)

Conniff accuses King of, "bad writing." After giving us an example paragraph, he then calls King out on "strike two" and asks, "what in the name of all that's scary is a "rank of doors"? Is it some kind of hierarchy or grading system or a band from the Sixties?  I have no idea, and if you're honest, neither do you. It's a stinkeroo."

Here's King's sentence: "When Augie reached the top of the wide, steep drive leading to the big auditorium, he saw a cluster of at least two dozen people already waiting outside the rank of doors, some standing, most sitting."

Made sense to me.  Need it broken down?  Is something unclear?  Wold Conniff think it owuld be better stated, "he saw a cluster of at least two dozen people already waiting outside a bunch-o doors."
Wait, Conniff then gives King a big "strike three."  Which is easy when you make up the game, and you're the Umpire.  The bottom line of his third complaint is that Conniff doesn't like complicated sentences.  He would probably prefer my the books piles up in my children's rooms.  In fact, Conniff declares that King's sentence is "completely incoherent."  And it is -- for him.

Conniff rants, "Wide? Steep? Big? Doors mysteriously ranked? Mazelike non-maze? They prickle me not."  Genius.

Then he makes the charge that because King is focused on  the story, he doesn't care about the words he uses.  He's just barfing up words to push the story forward.  Which is, of course, the opposite of what he argues in On Writing.  A whole portion of On Writing deals with the tools of the craft -- words.

Wait, Conniff isn't done.  He then suggests that it's the movies that save Stephen King's stories.  (REALLY!)  Conniff writes:
it takes movies like "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Green Mile" to bring his ideas to life. 
Finally, Conniff confesses, "I've never loved his writing."  Of course, he's cited how many books he actually read? Mr. Mercedes and On Writing.  That's it.  I don't know if he's read more, because he doesn't say, and without using WORDS, I have no way of knowing what Conniff has read.

Finally, the Huff Post blogger decides to smack all of us who like King -- because, of course, we're buying Stephen King books and not Michael Conniff books.  (Well, 11 of you might have switched teams here.  11.)    Connif says, "In a way, you can't blame Stephen King for his shortcomings as a writer. Like his audience, he just wants to find out what happens next."  In other words, King so intense into his story, he doesn't care how he gets there.

So Conniff never addresses Kings ability to build characters, advance plot, create suspense and draw the reader right into the mind of some pretty terrible people.  He doesn't look at King's real gift, characters.  Why?  Because simply put, Conniff can't handle the way Stephen King writes and sentence.  His arrogance and pride blinds him to the fact that he's tossing stones at an American Master.  

Obviously, Mr. Conniff needs to read my book, "Stephen King, A Face Among The Masters."  Then he will be better equipped to understand why Stephen King's work is important.


  1. Mr. Conniff's grapes must be pretty darned sour. I suppose he'd give Twilight a passing grade based on its use of purple prose alone.

  2. Wow. What a pompous douche.

    So, he's a writer and doesn't know what the words "wide", "steep", and "big" mean? Those words perfectly describe what King was trying to describe - nothing flowery needed, and the reader's imagination does the rest. Of course word choice is important and every word matters, but sometimes those choices can be the simplest ones and work just fine!

    He has the right to not like King, but he doesn't have the right to devalue him as a writer based on one sentence. I'm getting a bit angry now, so I'll just stop there...

  3. I won't give this pompous douche the satisfaction of reading his obvious click bait troll article.

  4. First, yes, Connif is a douche and the criteria on which he judges King is ridiculous; no writer could stand up to it, likely not even Connif himself.

    That said, I do agree that sales do not equal quality. Of course, in this case he's talking about someone who has routinely topped the best seller list with nearly every book he's ever written for the past 40+ years, so this ain't exactly a Stephenie Meyer situation (flash in the pan within a certain demographic).

    I bring this up because there is another writer out there, a truly abysmal writer, who sells very well within his genre. His name is Terry Goodkind. If you want an example of towering ego combined with poor-to-middling writing skill, Terry Goodkind is your man. Somehow, his insistence that his writing is important, deep, profound and life-altering when it's pretty much every standard fantasy trope out there with a side-order of unneeded explicitness makes for the ultimate crap sandwich.

    But he continually points to his sales figures as if they prove that anyone who doesn't like his book is a moron whose life is "limited to loathing and indifference" (exact quote) and that they "hate what is good because it is good" (another exact quote) and must spend their time railing against "the one author who is different". Again, his books are pretty much cookie-cutter examples of fantasy.