The Success of Stephen King as a ScreenwriterMovies are becoming more and more popular with new special effects and stories that are intriguing and gripping. Movies now have lasting effects on viewers, since the stories are becoming more involved and more in depth. Screenwriters are constantly trying to create better screenplays to have made into motion pictures, yet there are thousands, if not millions, of screenwriters out there trying to earn a wage. The Writer’s Guild of America reports that in one year an average of 40,000 screenplays will be submitted and out of those only 120 will be made into motion pictures. (Field 5) Stephen King, who has no affiliation to being a screenwriter, has written numerous novels that almost everyone knows without them having ever read one word. Stephen King has a way of writing that appeals to both readers and film lovers. King who is an author of books has beaten out millions of screenwriters in the movie business. What is funny is that King himself does not expect a movie adaptation when he writes his stories. Stephen King’s writing style is the main reason why King’s novels are almost always found on the big screen. King purposely uses images in his novels that tell stories themselves. These images help enhance the story as the reader reads King’s work. These images are ones made by the reader and are limited to just the images we see on screen. Of course some of the better King movies do have wonderful imagery that can be associated with the same image the reader would have made in his mind. One popular movie that was based on King’s work is Stand by Me, which has terrific examples of this imagery.
Stand by Me is based on King’s novella “The Body” which can be found in Different Seasons. “The Body” is a coming of age story about a boy named Gordie Lachance. Gordie is faced with the death of his brother, but is confused about his feelings. He knows he should be mourning for him, but he does not seem to have any remorseful feelings towards his brother. The story is about Gordie and 3 of his close friends on a journey through the woods to find a dead body. Throughout their journey they face all types of obstacles and go through a series of ups and downs. In the end they find the body and face a climatic altercation with the neighborhood gang. The four boys end up scaring the gang away and go home wi…
…y of King’s stories it is good to stop and actually take in the image that King is describing to us. The image that he gives us isn’t just for graphic purposes but actually to enlighten the story. A lot of symbolism can be found in the images King chooses, as explained above. King has a director’s mindset and uses images that a good director would use. It’s up to the reader to take these images and learn and analyze them to fill gaps in the story. A story can become much more complete when looking at a picture rather than reading in between the lines.
Bare Bones: Conversations on Terror with Stephen King, ed. Tim Underwood and Chuck Miller (New York, NY: Carroll & Graff Publishers, 1992) 282.
Bergmooser, Mark. “The Outsider’s guide to selling to Hollywood.” Writer’s Digest Vol. 78 (1998): 34.
Field, Syd. Selling a Screenplay: The Screenwriter’s Guide to Hollywood. New York, NY: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 1989.
King, Stephen. “The Body.” Different Seasons. New York: Penguin Books USA, 1982. 293-436.
Mayer, Geoff. “Stand By Me,” Metro (9/1/1992): 56-59.
Wukovits, John F. Stephen King. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books, Inc., 1999.