From Short Story to Novel–Part Three

In case you tuned in late, this conversation begins HERE. It moved forward last week, and the link for that is HERE. If you haven’t read the first two installments and hope to make sense of what comes next, you’re in for some confusion. So, if you’re smart–and obviously you are, because you’re here, reading this–you really ought to go back and start at the beginning. Go! Now. Shoo!

And welcome back! (I bet you missed the part about the girl and the gorilla, didn’t you? Never fear, I’ll address that again later. Or not. Who knows?)

Okay then, back to Scott and Daphne. Where does one go next if there’s to be a continuing saga for these charming protagonists? Fortunately for me, I’m going to be working in the fantasy genre, where magic is more rule than exception. My first question: How would such a world react to the presence of creatures–humans in this case–who’re supposedly make-believe? Elves and fairies? Sure. But homo sapiens? Get real.

And what about the basic necessities? They’re going to need food and clothing, and I imagine they’ll go stir crazy if they can’t ever leave the studio provided to them by the magickal blue lizard. They’ve already got a cast and crew who must know they’re human. Do they take pity on them? Fear them? Revere them?

Or might their emotions lead to other plot opportunities? What if the leprechaun lighting technician becomes jealous of Scott, or perhaps falls head over heels for Daphne? What if the dialog challenged, elfen actress uses a bit of sorcery to improve Scott’s opinion of her?

On a much less diabolical level, there’s the issue of an unplanned arrival in the fantasy realm. Scott and Daphne didn’t bring so much as a toothbrush or a change of underwear with them. What do they dress in while their clothes are in the wash? Fairy dust?

I’m also intrigued by the idea of a no-tech society which borrows video recording and broadcasting gear from the world we know and powers it with something other than electricity. Then too, one must wonder how transmissions are received in the land of gremlins, water sprites, and trolls. I’m picturing the home of the little old woman who lived in a shoe. You know the tale; the poor gal was overrun by children and there was no dad in the picture. (Kinda makes ya wonder where all the kiddies came from, right?) Anyhow, imagine that boot-like abode sprouting a huge TV antenna. Hardly charming and likely not a positive thing for the neighborhood.

And what about the societal pecking order? Which fantasy critters sit atop the social ladder? Is there any hope for a pair of lovers who hail from disparate groups: elf and troll, fairy and gnome, Montague and Capulet?

With few exceptions, everything mentioned thus far is mere background. It forms the canvas on which the story will unfold. It begins with a leap from frying pan to fire, though at the end of chapter one the primary players have yet to feel the heat. But they will, it’s guaranteed. The structure of a novel demands it–one crisis leads to another, and no matter how well or poorly the current problem is handled, it always leads to another, even more challenging one.

I’ve already broken one of my cardinal rules for novelists: don’t say too much about your story before you write it. If you do, you run the risk of losing the enthusiasm you’ll need to slog through the very difficult task of creation. Writing a novel is hard enough, why make it harder by talking it to death before you start the first draft? Save that energy and excitement for the writing. After all, you can only “tell” so many people. A novel, on the other hand, can take on a life of its own, one that will last a great deal longer than ours.



About joshlangston

Grateful and well-loved husband, happy grandparent, novelist, editor, and teacher. My life plate is full, and I couldn't be happier. Anything else I might add would be anticlimactic. Cheers!
This entry was posted in Historical writing, novel writing, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to From Short Story to Novel–Part Three

  1. dorisreidy says:

    What if the happy couple find themselves changing, morphing into something a little more or a little less than humans? Eager to read what your inventive brain comes up with for this story.

  2. Susanne says:

    I would be overwhelmed by the possibilities, TBH, which is why – so far – I write short stories. As always, I stand in awe of the novelist who can spin a whole world, or two in your case, and not run out of steam.

  3. joshlangston says:

    Writing a novel is like eating an elephant. Gotta do it one bite at a time.

  4. Betty says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed watching your creative mind working. You are an inspiration.

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