Monday, March 27, 2017

Big money for short stories

Dozens of movies have been made from short fiction, earning their authors nice rewards.  Sometimes a brief story has inspired more--even many more--than one movie.  Examples:

          Story and Author                                          Movie(s)
“The Bicentennial Man” Isaac Asimov       Bicentennial Man (1999)
“The Sentinel” Clarke                                  2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
“The Birds” Daphne duMaurier                   Same name (1963 Hitchcock)
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” Truman Capote      Same name (1961)
“Octopussy” Ian Fleming                             Same name (1983)
“It’s a Wonderful Life” Philip Van Doren    Three movies (1946-1990)
“The Fly” George Langelaan                        Five (1958-1989)
“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” Irving        Nine (1922-2004)
“A Christmas Carol” Charles Dickens          At least twelve (1912-2008)
“The Fall of the House of Usher” Poe           Fourteen (1928-2008)
“The Invisible Man” H.G. Wells                   Eighteen (1933-2013)
“Zorro” Johnathon McCulley                        Twenty-two (1920-2005)
“The Turn of the Screw” Henry James          Twenty-three (1957-2013)

Several of Stephen King’s short stories have become movies including The Mist (2007), The Langoliers (1992), Maximum Overdrive (1997), Children of the Corn (Several 1984-2009), and The Shawshank Redemption (1994).

Why is this so?  I think it’s because good short stories have lasting reader impact.  In many ways they demand the finest writing--succinct character development, vivid scene-setting, astute word choice, and tight plotting.  I can still remember some I enjoyed as far back as college, like “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane, and Hemingway’s “The Killers.”  I also loved the series featuring Tugboat Annie in The Saturday Evening Post, which also made the movies.

If you’re a writer or aspire to be, short stories can be fertile ground for your efforts.  And creating a good one could reap a lucrative harvest.


(Give my story collection, Dagger and other tales, a try.  It’s on Amazon, and includes yarns gleaned from a lifetime of writing, even one begun by Stephen King.)

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