60 Best Stephen King Quotes: His Most Profound, Inspiring, and Terrifying Words

Check out the legendary author's takes on topics like life, fear, and things that go bump in the night.

The best Stephen King quotes: from inspiring to terrifying

If you’re a fan of books in the horror, thriller, suspense, crime, and supernatural fiction genres, you know powerhouse author Stephen King. Stephen King’s books are filled with gripping stories, frank truths, and, at times, horrific situations that bend the bounds of reality. King’s descriptive and captivating writing sucks you in from the beginning, making his words truly unforgettable (just ask his loyal readers). Here are some of the best Stephen King quotes, from his best book quotes to his own quotes on life, horror, and writing.

Stephen King quotes about life

1. “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”—Different Seasons

2. “And in real life endings aren’t always neat, whether they’re happy endings, or whether they’re sad endings.”

3. “Life is like a wheel. Sooner or later, it always comes around to where you started again.”

4. “Remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”—Rita Hayward and Shawshank Redemption 

5. “The most important things are the hardest to say.”—Different Seasons

6. “Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”

7. “The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool.”—Needful Things

8. “Optimism is a perfectly legitimate response to failure.”

9. “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”—Danse Macabre

10. “Only enemies speak the truth; friends and lovers lie endlessly, caught in the web of duty.”—The Gunslinger

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Stephen King quotes about fear and horror

11. “Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”

12. “We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.”—Danse Macabre

13. “If a fear cannot be articulated, it can’t be conquered.”—‘Salem’s Lot

14. “We need ghost stories because we, in fact, are the ghosts.”—Danse Macabre

15. “It was the possibility of darkness that made the day seem so bright.”—Wolves of the Calla 

16. “He supposed that even in hell, people got an occasional sip of water, if only so they could appreciate the full horror of unrequited thirst when it set in again.”—Full Dark, No Stars 

17. “Love didn’t grow very well in a place where there was only fear, just as plants didn’t grow very well in a place where it was always dark.”—The Stand

18. “There are things of such darkness and horror—just, I suppose, as there are things of such great beauty—that they will not fit through the puny human doors of perception.”—Skeleton Crew

19. “I thought it was great fun to scare people. I also knew it was socially acceptable because there were a lot of horror movies out there.”

20. “Frightened people live in their own special hell. You could say they make it themselves, but they can’t help it. It’s the way they’re built. They deserve sympathy and compassion.”—Revival

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Stephen King quotes about writing

21. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

22. “A short story is a different thing altogether—a short story is like a quick kiss in the dark from a stranger.”—Skeleton Crew

23. “A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only real requirement is the ability to remember every scar.”

24. “When asked, ‘How do you write?’ I invariably answer, ‘one word at a time.'”

25. “Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”

26. “It is the tale, not he who tells it.”—Different Seasons: Four Novellas

27. “I write to find out what I think.”—The Colorado Kid

28. “When you write you tell yourself a story. When you rewrite you take out everything that is NOT the story.”

29. “You see something, then it clicks with something else, and it will make a story. But you never know when it’s going to happen.”

30. “You must not come lightly to the blank page.”

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Stephen King quotes about reading and books

31. “Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

32. “Reading a good long novel is in many ways like having a long and satisfying affair.”—Skeleton Crew

33. “The trick is to teach yourself to read in small sips as well as long swallows.”

34. “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

35. “Read a lot, write a lot is the great commandment.”

36. “Whatever came to mind, whatever came to hand, I would read.”

37. “Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn’t carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.”

38. “Only library books speak with such wordless eloquence of the power good stories hold over us.”—‘Salem’s Lot

39. “Books and movies are like apples and oranges. They both are fruit, but taste completely different.”

40. “The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor.”

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Funny Stephen King quotes

41. “I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries.”

42. “You can’t deny laughter; when it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair and stays as long as it wants.”

43. “Speaking personally, you can have my gun, but you’ll take my book when you pry my cold, dead fingers off of the binding.”

44. “Nobody likes a clown at midnight.”

45. “Give me just enough information so that I can lie convincingly.”

46. “I guess when you turn off the main road, you have to be prepared to see some funny houses.”

47. “I tend to scare myself.”

48. “People think that I must be a very strange person. This is not correct. I have the heart of a small boy. It is in a glass jar on my desk.”

49. “A man who lies about beer makes enemies.”—Pet Sematary 

50. “There had never been a shortage of fools in the world.”—The Drawing of the Three

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Notable quotes from Stephen King books

51. “Sometimes human places create inhuman monsters.”—The Shining 

52. “Time takes it all, whether you want it to or not.”—The Green Mile

53. “People don’t get better, they just get smarter. When you get smarter you don’t stop pulling the wings off flies, you just think of better reasons for doing it.”—Carrie

54. “Go then, there are other worlds than these.”—The Gunslinger 

55. “Life turns on a dime.”—11/22/63

56. “Adults are the real monsters.”—It 

57. “A secret needs two faces to bounce between; a secret needs to see itself in another pair of eyes.”—Christine

58. “Memory is the basis of every journey.”—Dreamcatcher

59. “We lie best when we lie to ourselves.”—It

60. “The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there…and still on your feet.”—The Stand

Itching for more quotes? Read these classic children’s book quotes that adults can relate to.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Kelly Kuehn
Kelly Kuehn is a former editor for Reader’s Digest who covered entertainment, trivia and history. When she’s not working you can find her watching the latest and greatest movies, listening to a true-crime podcast (or two), blasting ‘90s music and hiking with her dog, Ryker, throughout the Finger Lakes.