10 Stephen King Short Stories He Wants You to Adapt

Since 1977, Stephen King has offered film students a chance to adapt a selection of his short stories into screenplays for only a dollar each. In most cases, King retains the film rights, but grants permission to the filmmaker to make a non-commercial adaptation. In special circumstances, as was the case for Frank Darabont’s adaptation of “The Woman In The Room,” the quality of the work can lead to a commercial release.

King affectionately calls these films his Dollar Babies. Here are just a few of the short stories he’s looking to film students to adapt.



10. “Mute”

First appeared in Playboy Magazine in 2007 and in King’s collection Just After Sunset in 2008.



What’s it about?

After a man at the end of his rope vents his problems to a deaf/mute hitchhiker, his cheating wife and her lover are mysteriously murdered.


9. “The Reach”

First published in Yankee in 1981 under the title “Do the Dead Sing?”, it was later collected in King’s 1985 collection Skeleton Crew.

Portrait of a Old Woman


What’s it about?

A 95 year-old woman who has never left her island home decides to follow ghostly visions of dead friends and relatives across the frozen Reach to the mainland.


8. “One for the Road”

First published in the March/April 1977 issue of Maine, and later collected in King’s 1978 collection Night Shift.



What’s it about?

Two old friends set out to help a family with car trouble in the middle of a blizzard, only to find themselves fighting for their lives against a town of vampires.


7. “Stationary Bike

Originally published in the fifth edition of From the Borderlands in 2003. In 2008, it was published in King’s collection Just After Sunset.



What’s it about?

An obese man becomes obsessed with exercising on his stationary bike and develops frightening hallucinations as he maps his progress.


6. “Here There Be Tygers

Published in the Spring 1968 issue of Ubris magazine, and collected in King’s Skeleton Crew in 1985.

Here There Be Tygers [from the Skeleton Crew limited edition]


What’s it about?

A timid third grader goes to the bathroom, only to find a maneating tiger inside. Waiting.


5. “Suffer the Little Children”

First published by Cavalier in February, 1972. The story was later published as part of the collection Nightmares & Dreamscapes in 1993.


What’s it about?

A teacher is sent to a mental institution after murdering students she believed were demons. 


4. “Beachworld

First published in Weird Tales in 1984 and collected in King’s 1985 collection Skeleton Crew.


Beachworld – a world of sinister swarming sand dunes

What’s it about?

A pair of astronauts crash land on a planet comprised entirely of sentient sand. While one of the astronauts loses his mind, the other plots their escape.


3. “Grey Matter”

First published in the October 1973 issue of Cavalier magazine, and later collected in King’s 1978 collection Night Shift.



What’s it about?

A group of men visit a recluse who has slowly turned into a fungal monster after drinking a “bad beer.”


2. “The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands”

First published in the 1982 horror anthology Shadows 4, edited by Charles L. Grant, and collected in Skeleton Crew in 1985.



What’s it about?

A mysterious card player is cursed with the power to kill anyone who shakes his hand.


1. “That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French”

Originally published in the June 22, 1998 issue of The New Yorker magazine. In 2002, it was collected in King’s collection Everything’s Eventual.



What’s it about?

A woman experiences a chronic case of deja vu as she travels with her husband to the Florida Keys. The woman also hears voices, finds burnt pieces of paper, and other evidence that suggests the plane she’s on never makes it to its destination.


In conclusion…

Many of the filmmakers who began practicing their craft by adapting King’s stories have gone on to make much larger movies. Frank Darabont has directed several adaptations of Stephen King’s stories including The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist, as well as launching the TV show The Walking Dead.

So what are you waiting for? You can find a list of these stories and more on Stephen King’s website. Don’t be afraid to dive in. After all, it was King who said himself, “Fear is at the root of most bad writing.” 

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5 Responses to “10 Stephen King Short Stories He Wants You to Adapt”

  1. nick s. Says:

    September 30th, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    I’m smiling to King’s quote about fear. Nice! Suffer The Little Children sounds like a good one to adapt..only..students today ARE demons.

  2. Stephen Richards Says:

    October 31st, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Can I just write scripts from those same stories?

  3. Claudia Summerfield Says:

    November 3rd, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    http://stephenking.com/dollarbabies.php Send them an e-mail!

  4. Stephen Richards Says:

    November 3rd, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    What is their email address?

  5. Stephen Richards Says:

    March 16th, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    I saw the assignment but didn’t choose a story.

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