King is the more literary of the two, while Koontz could well be the better entertainer. This can be demonstrated in how the two begin their novels. Koontz almost always starts with an action scene, while King likes to get things going at a more pedestrian pace. Also most of Koontz’s books contain large helpings of suspense. King is more a straight forward horror writer. King does, however, on occasion stray from the supernatural with stories like Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption and Misery.
Koontz is easier to read; I tend to fly through his novels. King’s work being more literate requires more concentration. Make no mistake Koontz at his best is worthy of great literature but his books have more ups and downs. In every Koontz book there are one or two sections where I think he could have written better.
That said, King is more verbose. One often finds him ranting on about things that have nothing to do with the story. This is of course part of his charm. Nobody blathers on quite as amusingly as King. The man gives free reign to his imagination like no other writer I have read. Not so much in what is happening, though his stories are certainly relentlessly creative, but in how he presents his stories. Check out Firestarter for an example of that. Sometimes, though, he goes too far. In Bag of Bones, for instance, there were many sections where I wished he’d just get on with it.
Although both write a lot, Koontz is the more prolific. He has written over 100 novels and counting. King, however, is no slouch having penned 60 novels and eight anthologies to date.
According to Wikipedia Koontz has sold more books with a staggering 400 millions copies sold. King isn’t that far behind with 350 million.
When it comes to having their stories put into film King dominates with over 50 film adaptations of his stories having been made. To my knowledge only Shakespeare comes close with all of his 30 plays having been translated into film at some stage or another. Koontz has had a respectable 10 movies based on his stories.
Both writers approach their stories from different angles. King is more of an external writer while Koontz is more internal. By that I mean Koontz goes deeper into the psychology of his characters; his villains in particular. King tends to deal with more material threats. There is always some monster lurking are the shadows in King’s book, while with Koontz it is more about the monsters lurking around within us.
That brings us to another question. Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the scariest of them all? Koontz truly knows how to spook, especially in books like The Taking and Winter Moon. King certainly has a knack for bestowing the creeps as well, check out The Shinning and From a Buick Eight. King is, however, more macabre and less preachy. His work will take you to darker places and often without any hope of redemption.
Ultimately who wins with battle between these two colossal authors? As you might have guessed my chips are on King. While both are truly awesome writers, old Stevie has more weapons in his arsenal. He has truly mastered this tricky craft of writing. To my mind he is a literary author who just happens to write horror. Had he chosen to write something other than horror or fantasy, I am sure his name would be alongside the greatest English writers.
Watchers (Of the 15 Koontz’s books I have read to date, Watchers is the most well rounded)
From a Buick 8
On writing (this non-fiction book lets you in on many of King’s writing secrets and is a darn good read)