"You know what? The bastard blows me out of the water. This guy writes Maine like Ardai writes New York. If you're not reading him, you don't know what you're missing." --Chris F. Holm, author of The Big Reap, The Wrong Goodbye and Dead Harvest.

"Bagley's got the poet's eye, but that doesn't mean everything is prettier in his work. It means the ugly stuff is more vivid. More intense. Like a sudden switch from analog to HD. And that's a trait to very much admire in his work." --Anthony Neil Smith, author of Hogdoggin', Yellow Medicine, The Drummer and Psychosomatic.




Friday, June 12, 2009

Here's a Question for You Readerly and Writerly Type People

Short stories that get expanded into novels.

Good? Bad? Cheesy? Drawbacks? Advantages?

Discuss.

14 comments:

John McFetridge said...

The main advantages is that I already know the characters a little. If they're characters I would like to know more about, then it's a great idea.

I don't really see a downside.

Spider Robinson did this with the short story "God is an Iron," and I wasn't a big fan of the novel (forget the title), but WP Kinsella expanded the short Story, "Sholess Joe Jackson Goes to Iowa," into the terrific novel, "Shoeless Joe" (and people seem to like the movie version, "Field of Dreams."

pattinase (abbott) said...

I thought they did a great job with the Dubus story made into, "In the Bedroom." As always I guess it depends on who gets the material.

Kieran Shea said...

I'm with John. Where's the problem? Unless it's a book that drags and drags and you start to say, wait a second, is someone just throwing loose meat on a winking skeleton? With quick mysteries I sometimes get that feeling, like, move it along already! Do we need a whole chapter on bar food? Or a whole chapter on the protagonist's driving skills and weight training habits? But a better question, squire: if you took first chapters of some mega cool books, do they stand alone as a group of short stories? Note to self...cool marketing anthology idea...do as a promo for a publishing house...package the anthology with a major hitter from the collection.

Chris said...

I've wondered this myself many a time. The only downside I can think of is that once a story is written, it's sort of cemented in my mind, and therefore might resist expanding. But other than that, I think it's a fine idea. I mean hell, good enough for Hammett and Chandler is good enough for me.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

Well let's say, upon rereading one of my previously published short stories, it occured to me that the story as it existed was just the tip of the iceberg. If there's a lot more story to tell, and the ending turns out to be something completely different, you wouldn't feel dismissive toward the resulting novel? That is, if you knew it began life as a 4,000 word short.

Chris said...

As someone who read the short? Not at all. And if I hadn't (which the vast majority of the audience for the book would not have), I wouldn't think much about it either way. In fact, a good number of my favorite books began as short stories. I don't even fave the faintest twinge of inexplicable bias on this one.

Chris said...

Have. Don't even have the faintest twinge. Damn lack of proofreading.

Gerald So said...

Go for it, Patrick. If I'd read a story and heard it was becoming a novel, I'd read the novel just to see how the concept was expanded/different.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

"...you wouldn't feel dismissive toward the resulting novel?"

Christ, I hope not. That's what I did with mine.

And a lot of other writers have done so, too. Sean Doolittle's The Cleanup started as a Plots With Guns story, for example.

Travis Erwin said...

I did that very thing and it has been challenging. The short story was on the longish side 12K words, but the first draft of the novel was 78k and the middle sagged despite the fact I added several subplots. I am now revising it yet again and I hope this will finally bring the middle portions of the novel up to par with the beginning and end.

pattinase (abbott) said...

You know I read this wrong earlier. Megan's story "Policy" for Damned Near Dead became QUEENPIN and I think it worked well. I know Michael Zadoorians short story became THE LEISURE SEEKER. So I think it does work. Just not for me.

Paul Brazill said...

Like I said on facebook, Amis' 'The Murderee' was pretty good but 'London Fields' was great fun. Why not go for it? I suspect you're up for it.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

Thanks, everybody. I've already started it, and it feels like I'm on the right course, but I have a lifelong habit of second-guessing myself. Going to stick with this thing and see if I can pull it off.

Roguewun said...

Well Patrick, my most favorite series of all time ended being seven full length novels and they all started from I believe was either a very short story or maybe even a poem. So if it is done properly then yes. I would also argue that MOST of the best book to movie conversions I have seen were from the shorter stories.