Musings,  Writing

How to Turn a 3k Short Story into an 11k Novelette in 3 Easy Steps

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It’s not as hard as it sounds, especially when you’re writing short stories in a big universe that you’ve already got three short novels set in with literally dozens of neat little things you could pick up. And some of them aren’t so little. So…

1. Start with a clear idea for a short story

Most of the short stories I plan to write this year fall into the Warforge universe. I’d like to have about 20 to go along with the three short novels in the first triad (not trilogy as I’m still debating whether to weave them back together into a single story or not). “Closing Time” was originally about the shutting down and locking up of a secret lab that serves as a pivotal location for an important plot point. The scientists involved in that lab had to get out in advance of an invasion and the military wanted to make sure nothing cool was left lying around. But the scientists aren’t part of the original story, so I thought it might be fun.

2. Love the POV character

Janis immediately started speaking inside my head. She’s a junior military intelligence operative (not a spoiler—this is fairly clear by the end of page 2) with a science background. In theory the junior member of the science team, she’s also the core of their security, but they don’t really know that. She’s also, smart, tough, and good at following orders. There was more of her story to tell than I’d initially planned.

3. Decide there are other things you’d like to resolve

And what helped there being more to tell was that I quickly thought it would be neat to tie in  a couple of other things that come up in the main narrative, but that I won’t give away here. And I decided to refine the invasion timeline and early progression a little more.

So what started out as a short story about a small group of scientists sealing their secret lab and fleeing the planet a few minutes before the Ogres arrived, turned into a short saga about the things they had to go through while trying to get away.

Original projected length = 3,000 words.

Actual first draft = 10,811 words.

Projected final draft (based on previous experience) = 12,500 words.

I’m starting to wonder if I can write a short story anymore.

Be well, everyone.

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