As writers, we’re frequently told “raise the stakes,” which often translates to “make things worse for the hero.” Which leads to a mostly-static antagonist, who exists only to pile hazards upon the heroes.

But King often makes things worse for his villains, which is a beautiful trick now that I recognize it: it allows him to start out with villains who hold all the cards, making them seem unbeatable. And then their power gets chipped away by the actions of the heroes and their own mistakes, slowly raising the pressure on them, until by the end confrontation they’re beaten down and desperate. The reader’s more involved because she knows that not only is this showdown important for the heroes, but knows that the villain’s got it all riding on this as well. This is vitally important for not just one but two people, and as such even though we know good will mostly triumph (this is a Stephen King book, after all), we’re equally invested in seeing how the villain fails.

–Ferrett Steinmetz on one of the writing techniques commonly used by Stephen King.