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  • Writer's pictureKali Kuzma

5 Ways to Take a Short Story Concept and Turn It into a Full-Length Novel

When You Know Your Short Story Should Be a Novel

Have you ever written a short story and realized it had potential to turn into a full novel?

This happened to me back in 2010 when I first dreamt of a coming to age thriller. After writing it as a short story, it dawned on me the story was meant to be a longer novel. So how did I take my short story and rewrite the outline so it could be published as a full-fledged novel? Here are five ways for your short story to turn into the novel it was meant to become.

5 Ways to Extend Your Short Story

1. Flesh Out Your Characters

When it comes to short stories, I always think of Kurt Vonnegut's quote, "Start as close to the end as possible." This means leaving out details you couldn't include before. This is true when it comes to characters.

Take your character's and create a backstory for them. Add small details you didn't think to add before. Do they like chewing gum? Do they rub the back of their neck when they get nervous? Think of these types of questions to help distinguish between your characters while giving your readers a reason to connect with them.

With the backstories and small details, your short stories pages will increase.

2. Add More Descriptive Scenes, Characters, and Locations

Look over your short story and distinguish the important locations, scenes, and characters. Now what can be added to it?

Lengthening these parts of your story will help give your reader a better idea and understanding of the world you are trying to create.

For example, say you had written about your character breaking into an abandon building by a dock. Now stretch it out.

Describe how the character and their parents used to come down to these docks to fish every Sunday. How the surrounding buildings which were once a main attraction in town are boarded up and haven't been kept up in years. But now, they are sneaking past George the security guy who is asleep at the front entrance watching a rerun of Cheers on his mini screen tv.

Adding all these details will start shaping your story into a full novel.

3. Add Emotion

Emotion is crucial when you want your audience connecting to your story, especially when it comes to longer reads.

This can be done by having strained relationships between characters or creating a budding romance. Emotions can also be added by writing scenes that connect with people on a daily basis such as a loved one in the hospital with cancer or your sister's only friend, who happens to be the family dog, got hit by a car. One emotionally connection authors like to use most in their writing is killing off one of the more likeable main characters.

All these are great examples and with the correct word choice add so much more to your story.

4. Write as If You are Watching a Movie

When taking your short story to a longer format write as if you are watching your story like a movie. See how the camera jumps from different characters and how they are interacting in the scene. Are they sad? What are their internal thoughts?

Where are they and what is going on behind them? Is a noisy where they are at? What kind of background music is playing to give the emotion of the scene?

All these small details help show the picture to the reader and will help you add in the smaller details you might have missed in your original short story.

5. Include a Backstory

Short stories are typically written based around a specific scene relative to the here and now. This means back story is usually left out or only mentioned briefly.

But adding in a detailed backstory which has a connection to the here and now is a great way to extend your story while also getting readers to connect to your characters more. Backstories are often the best place to throw in a twist, so think of one that may move your story forward.


Final Thoughts

Here were five easy ways to take your short story and write it into a full-blown novel. What are some other ways you have extended scenes or added details to make your story longer? Tell me in the comments below!

If you are looking for more writing advice, take a look at my last post on How to Get Over Doubts Writing Your Sequel.

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