- If you have strong characters you like, don't give up on them just because the short story or novelette doesn't quite work.
- When you expand into a novel, use as much of the plot as makes sense. This may mean throwing out some of your favorite scenes, but they may no longer be relevant in the longer work.
- Do a careful job of expanding the plot. This isn't as easy as it seems. It took me at least ten tries to make the ending mesh with the beginning. I'm finally happy with it.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Turning a Short Story into a Novel
One way to get an idea for a novel is to resurrect a short story with good characters and an intriguing plot and take it further. I did this recently, and after a struggle, I was pleased with the result.
The short story was one of the first I'd written. A stay-at-home wife worries that her husband is having an affair with his administrative assistant. When wedding rings fall out of his pocket, she thinks they're her anniversary present, it means he loves her. But they belong to his administrative assistant. She finds this out in the middle of a party. Believing that this is confirmation of the affair, she turns and walks out on him. I like this short story. It showed a woman who had been subservient to her husband, and lost her own identity in the process, getting her spunk back.
The first transition into a novel was a romance novelette of approximately 12,000 words. The woman takes walking away from her husband one step further and flies to Las Vegas for a Fantasy Romance weekend. She meets an eligible man, becomes friendly with one of the other women, and is asked to fill in for the wedding planner who has just had a baby. Of course, her husband shows up trying to get her to go home, but now she's more sure of herself and won't do exactly what he asks.
The novelette was all right, but it didn't have much vitality. I still liked the main character and I particularly liked the new characters I invented for the Las Vegas scenes. I put the novelette away for awhile and then decided to expand it once more to a full 60,000+ word novel.
Typically, I write romantic suspense so I brought in a mystery. Now the woman finds a huge yellow diamond ring in her husband's pocket. When she gets to Las Vegas, the diamond turns up in suspicious circumstances, and there's a mystery to solve as well as a wedding to plan.
The lessons I drew from the following are:
Turning a short story into a novel isn't necessarily quick or easy, but it can be rewarding, if you're able to save the lives of some of your favorite characters.
The Yellow Diamond Caper is now available from Amazon.