The best thing about Stephen King is the conviction. Because, let’s face it, some of his ideas come across as kind of lame when you first hear them (Evil car, anyone?). Luckily, King is a writer of such skill and talent that they never seem that way when you’re actually reading the books. He makes it all seem plausible.

King also manages to pull off that risky feat in which the odd or horrific circumstances surrounding his plots go forever unexplained – a key component that might make or break a novelist’s relationship with his audience. But nope: King’s confidence assures readers that they don’t really need to know why things are happening, just that they are, and this is what the characters are doing in reactionary terms. Because really, King’s works are almost always about his characters. They’re stories about time and place and culture and society as much as they’re about hell-bent clowns, psychic adolescents and rabid dogs.

But Stephen King isn’t to be defined by his novels alone. Over the span of his long career he’s ventured into all sorts of creative writing avenues: these include the short story, and the novella. Even if you think novella is a made-up word that pretentious people use to describe something half the size of a novel, writers have been toying with the format for hundreds of years. And Stephen King knows that better than most: he’s written more than a dozen of the things since he started writing in the 60s. In fact, The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption, The Mist and Stand By Me all began life as novellas before they each became wonderful feature films.

To celebrate the fact that King has two brand new novels on the way (one of which is a long-awaited sequel to The Shining), here’s a run-down of his 5 best novellas that are yet to become feature films (in case you want to read something but can’t be bothered to read an entire novel, these novella things are considered rather good).

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This article was first posted on August 16, 2012