We know that writing short stories will make us better writers, but if you were wondering what other benefits short stories have, take a look at this awesome list of movies that were based on short stories or novellas.
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s – film adaptation of Truman Capote’s 1958 novella
- The Birds – based on Daphne Du Maurier’s novella
- 2001: A Space Odyssey – based on Arthur C. Clarke’s short story The Sentinel
- Apocalypse Now – based on Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness
- The Dead – adapted from James Joyce’s short story The Dead
- Total Recall – based on Philip K. Dick’s story
- Jumanji – based on a children’s book of the same name, written and illustrated by Chis Van Allsburg
- Sleepy Hollow – based on the short story by Washington Irving titled The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
- Eyes Wide Shut – based on Arthur Schnitzler’s novella Traumnovelle
- Brokeback Mountain – adapted from E. Annie Proulx’s short story Brokeback Mountain
- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s acclaimed short story
- Where the Wild Things Are – adapted from Maurice Sendak’s book
Reading a story and watching that particular story depicted in a different medium is a wonderful way to learn about ‘show, don’t tell’. If you think about it, screenwriters don’t get to ‘tell’. If they want to convey something about the story or the character they have to ‘show’. It is true that we write books, not screenplays, but we can still learn a lot from them.
Of course, not all adaptations are created equal. It is a good exercise to read the short story and watch the movie. Here are some questions you can ask yourself afterwards:
- What did they do well in the movie version?
- What did they get wrong and why?
- Did the original story have lots of dialogue and action?
- Did you prefer the movie, if so why?
- How did they switch from ‘telling’ to ‘showing’?
This would, of course, also be a good idea for any novel that has been adapted. Try to get your hands on the screenplay if possible. Google may help you find it.
I hope this list inspires you to write more short stories. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up on the red carpet?
Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a screenplay, sign up for our NEW online course: The Script. If you want to learn how to write a short story, join us for Short Cuts in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.
by Mia Botha
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