How NOT to turn a short story into a novel

Rena George Editing your work, Writing 6 Comments

Time is something we never have enough of, but for writers those precious hours seem squeezed even more.
We have families to look after, cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring children to their various out of school activities. Those of us who are grandparents often have child minding duties…and then there is the odd holiday to squeeze in, catching up with friends. Did I mention a full time job? Oh yes, and then there’s the writing…and the blogging…and the Facebook…and the Twitter…AND THE WRITING!!
Phew! No, I don’t know how we do it all either, but somehow we manage.
I have just come through a very busy family time, and my writing sank down in my list of priorities. Although the pressure has now eased considerably, life is still rattling on a full speed, but at least I’m back writing, and it’s keeping me centred.
It’s some time since I blogged about my current project to turn a short story into a novel. I thought it would be a simple thing when I first started this project. I mean, how difficult could it be? I already had the skeleton of a plot and the characters and their motivation were also already there.


Take my word for it; it is so much easier to write a completely new novel. I was pretty pleased with myself when I’d written the first draft. It was good.


It was awful. The plot was all over the place, the dialogue was puerile, and the whole thing was so confusing that I felt like binning it. This was always going to be a learning curve for me, and now that I know what’s involved, if I ever do this again I will do things differently. I will sketch out my plot, including all the new twists and turns. I will create a proper character list, adding all the new people, and I will work out the ending. I didn’t do any of this and as a consequence it took me ages to get it right.

Well, joy of joys, I have now done a couple of re-writes and just finished the third draft, which I call my continuity edit. It’s here that I check things don’t happen out of sequence, characters don’t contradict themselves, dialogue makes sense, characters names / eye colour / hair etc. don’t confusingly change. Same goes for places/ miles between locations / time of year / times of day etc.
As all writers will know, these things can so easily trip us up. I knew a couple of things in there were wrong but it wasn’t until I started this draft that I realized how much still needed changing. Now that all this has been attended to I feel much more confident about this book.
The next edit will tidy up any remaining loose ends before the final spellcheck and read through.

Now that I’m nearing the end of the road with this novel I’m getting excited.
I have already started plotting the third book in my Mellin Cove series – crashing waves, secret coves, smuggling and romantic adventure in 18th century Cornwall – and I can’t wait to get down to the writing.
Also in the pipeline is a new crime series I’m planning featuring a Scottish detective. But that’s another blog post.
Have a great week everyone, and thank you for stopping by.

Comments 6

    1. Post

      That’s very kind of you, Sue. I’m hoping this MS only needs a final read through, but I suspect I’ll still find more things that need fixing. If that happens then it might need another edit, but I’m hoping not.

  1. Well done! Nearly there. I turned a short story into my novel The Pearl Locket and so I totally understand how hard it is! Seems like a great idea when you start but is a lot of work.

    1. Post

      Thanks, Kath, it’s lovely to see you here on my blog, and thanks for leaving a comment.
      Your words of support are much appreciated. I really did think this business of turning a short story into a novel would be a doodle. It’s encouraging to know other writers like yourself also found it challenging.

    1. Post

      It is quite a feat, Rosemary, and there was a point when I wanted to toss the whole thing in the bin, but I’m glad now that I didn’t. I’m hoping it only needs another read through now before I send it off. Fingers crossed.

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