From Scenes to a Novel

Anonymous asked: “I really feel like turning this 3 page scene into a complete novel but I’m not sure how to do it. Any tips?”

There isn’t really a general right or wrong way to do this. My first instinct would be to say find the central conflict. What is the plot going to be? 

If it were me, I’d start trying to outline a cohesive plot. Lean heavily on the scene you’ve written and delve deeper into its conflict. Some scenes – or even short stories – don’t have enough to them to make them into novels. I don’t mean that as a bad thing. Short stories are very much their own art form and their plots work a little differently from novels. With that said, if you want to turn a scene or short story into a novel, you may need to be prepared to just have that scene stand as an inspiration as it might not fit so nicely with your original scene. 

I’m working on a novel now that was originally a short story. I ended up taking out a lot of things that might have been pretty essential to the original story. The characters now don’t look anything like the original inspiration, but in the end, I’m excited about what I’m working on. It doesn’t bother me that it’s different, because while it is different, the things that fascinated me from the very beginning are still there front and center. I am not going to say anything like “you need to know what you love about the scene or story” because what you love about it might not be able to be easily put into words. It might be too limiting. Instead, start with what you have and try to let the idea evolve into something larger. 

For me, I realized that two of my characters were potentially very dangerous people. I think I started with what if they’d gotten away with murder? And everything began to take shape from there. The original story also had an elderly librarian who moonlighted as a werewolf hunter. She didn’t make it into the novel – it just isn’t that kind of story. In fact, there’s no library at all in this one – or maybe there will be, but it’s not the same library that the short story took place in. The setting changed, the ages of the characters changed quite a bit, and even a few themes that were a major part of the original short story have changed to better fit the new plot line. 

I think you have to embrace new ideas as they come to you. It’s going to get very messy before it comes together, but the more you work at it, the more it will come together. 

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