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Stephen King Writes Bad Sentences?

September 27, 2018

(image via wikipedia)

This is one of those topics that I have to be careful with.  Stephen King is a great author who’s written a bunch of books that I like a lot.  When I suggest (or outright state) that he has written some bad sentences, some readers/writers get mad.

To me, it comes down to a famous quote about writing attributed to Stephen King: “I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs,…”

You might think that an author who says this would be precise with his use of that cursed part of speech, but he (and he admits this) can be just as guilty as any other author.

Even so, it can be fun to take a look at Stephen King’s most popular (and maybe greatest) novel to see how he uses adverbs in writing.

I’ve always said, if your sentence has a part of speech that puts you on the road to hell, then that must be a bad sentence.  And as I demonstrate in the video below, Stephen King used a lot of adverbs in The Shining.


  1. I’m sorry, but my sarcasm/satire detector seems to be intermittently malfunctioning today… Do you mean this seriously?

    Yes, by his own declaration against adverbs, Stephen King himself is guilty of writing many bad sentences. (Just in his essay about the road to hell being paved with adverbs, there are at least a dozen that aren’t there as examples of what not to do. Perhaps Mr. King chose to ignore the fact thatany word used to modify a verb is an adverb: not and “never are adverbs, too.)

    I’ve never seen a novel or even a short story that was grammatically correct and yet contained no adverbs. Until such time as someone proves that it can be done, I will continue to view “Never use adverbs!” as something to be ridiculed, not heeded.

    Thanks for this video, by the way. I’d long been sort of planning to go through a single chapter of one of King’s novels and count all the adverbs he uses, to make a point of some kind, and I’m glad someone else has done that work instead (and I hope your purpose was the same: to show that even Stephen “The Road to Hell Is Paved With Adverbs — So DON’T USE ‘EM” King himself uses adverbs a lot, and therefor people need to stop quoting him as “proof” that adverbs are Teh Evilz).

    • “…my sarcasm/satire detector seems to be intermittently malfunctioning today… Do you mean this seriously?”

      Haha! My monotone voice can make a lot of sarcasm detectors malfunction.

      I just think it’s funny how people almost take the Stephen King quote about adverbs literally. And when you criticize Stephen King, even half-jokingly, some people (like the guy I mentioned in the video) GET REALLY ANGRY!!!!

      • I’ve read the entire essay that King’s ‘adverbs lead to hell’ quotes comes from, and I can tell you that he meant it seriously. People having a conniption fit about anyone daring to criticize a Big Name Author… Yeah, that’s ridiculous, just as it’s ridiculous for anyone to have a conniption fit over someone daring to criticize an author whose works have Literary Merit. *rolls eyes*

        (Not a fan of King. I don’t read a lot of horror in the first place, and when I do, I much prefer Barker.)

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