With over sixty novels, and countless characters, Stephen King has created the dreamscapes that define our imaginations. So much of modern make believe is informed by King’s creations, and invariably we are affected by these scribblings of words on paper. The fake men and women who are tested remain with us long after we close the book. There are thousands of people and creatures that populate the inscapes of King’s imagination, we should talk about them all. I hope we do. For now, let’s only regard those who have leading status in the stories.

Many lists are self evident by their title, but when you say “Best Lead Characters” you have some defining to do. Therefore I present to you the criteria for the list you’ll find below. A character must be the lead protagonist in the story. We’re not talking about the narrator, or someone telling the story, but the one whom, if they’re removed, the whole narrative disappears. This gets tough with ensemble epics like It or The Stand, but in every tale there is a pivotal character. They’re usually easy to spot: wave hello Jack Sawyer, and of course you Jake Epping. But that leaves out great people like Sandy Dearborn of Troop D, and everyone’s favorite inmate Red.

With the main criteria over, and a list that is at a glance over 30 characters deep, it’s time to whittle away. It’s sad to say, but a good story’s lead will more often than not trump a bad story’s lead. That cuts at least a handful of wannabes. The questions that have to be asked are: Do you miss the character when the book is done? Does their life have an impact on the world and story in a meaningful way? Are they important? Do they feel real?

These are among the many questions you have to ask yourself when you decide to take on the monumental task of narrowing Stephen King’s best lead characters down to just five. Because when you go below ten with this list you find yourself cutting some of the most iconic persons in modern literature.

5. Stephen King - On Writing

Oh yes, my friends, we’re going to do this thing right. Because King’s memoir of how he became the writer we may not all love, but can at least respect his craftsmanship, is as much a story of a man’s perseverance as instruction manual. In fact, it’s the very story of King’s life and struggle as a writer that makes this the best guide to being a quality writer in the history of the craft. King is at the center of the story the whole way through, and by extension also includes you in on the secrets.

The book is more important for writers than anything your literary professor forced you to read. That’s because of the man at the center of the tale goes on a life changing journey, and along the way shares vast swaths of wisdom with the reader. By the time you’ve finished you’re compelled to call or write Stephen King, the man in this book not the one who just released a sequel to The Shining, and let him know that you’re going to try and be brave enough.

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