It’s the journey AND the destination!

By Stephen Buehler

Stephen Buehler - Bouchercon

I have taken on an arduous task – converting my novella into a novel.

The Mindreading Murders is about a magician who’s making his big comeback. One of his assistants is killed after being a guest on a medium’s TV show. This medium has something to do with the magician’s tragic past. This leads to the magician investigating the medium and his “ability” to talk with the dead. They have several “Mind Off” competitions where each one demonstrates their respective abilities as the magician unravels what really happened to his deceased assistant.


The novella was written for an on-line publisher of novellas but the company went defunct. After a successful author read it and loved it, she thought it felt more like a novel and I should change it. To go from novella to novel I’d have to increase the word count by at least 10,000 words. The novella was 39,000 words and a very short novel is 50,000 words.

I have taken on that challenge. I began by adding small changes to scenes. This slowly increased the word count but it felt like the story was being tacked on. And I wasn’t happy with the way it was reading, too choppy and the additional words appeared to me to be just that, additional words. Really, the biggest obstacle was, it was not fulfilling my creativity. I wasn’t plugging away on it like I usually do.

While walking Seymour, my dog, it came to me. seymour-haircut-6-3-15What I had to do was make changes to some of the characters and hopefully that would provide all new scenes. Where in a novella I used thumb nail sketches of the characters now I could really dive into who they really are. For instance, the magician’s best friend went from being a nerd to a lady’s man who likes to flirt. The grandfather, a likable old magician now has a mysterious love interest. A character I had eliminated in the beginning of the novella now sticks around causing havoc behind the scenes. These additions have given The Mindreading Murders many new new organic subplots.

All of these changes breathed new life into the story. I wasn’t just adding words I was creating a whole new story by using the novella as a blueprint. Everyday I’m excited to get back to writing to see what happens next. Actually, some days I’m a little disappointed if I only get to make minor changes instead of new scenes and story lines.

I’m now at 51,000 words and I’m 2/3 finished with this new draft. Now I can call it a novel!



Stephen Buehler’s short fiction has been published in numerous on-line publications including, Akashic Books. Not My Day appeared in the Last Exit to Murder anthology and A Job’s a Job in Believe Me or Not An Unreliable Anthology.  He’s expanding his novella, The Mindreading Murders about a magician into a novel and shopping around his mystery/comedy P.I. novel, Detective Rules. On top of all that he is a script consultant, magician and dog owner.







11 thoughts on “It’s the journey AND the destination!

  1. How interesting and loved hearing how your novella became the blueprint to develop your novel. Sounds like your creative juices began flowing again. Not getting it published the first time sounds like a lucky break maybe.


  2. Stephen, I wish you well. What a great story and I can see how the addition of the extra character personas add so much. Walking is a great inspirer. Best on this one. Doris


  3. Seymour seems to be a great influence. Sometimes when I have writing that is “stuck” a dog walk with Patty often helps me regroup and gives me inspiration. Sounds like you’re on the right track. Good luck!


  4. You are an inspiration, Stephen! I’m working on a project that I started 2 years ago, and going through NaNo plus a college class on plotting and now reading your post, I’m more encouraged than ever to finish my WIP. Like you, I have to change some scenes and develop my characters more, and I’m finding some new twists that weren’t in my purview before. It’s exciting to find new aspects to our works! Best of luck to you!


  5. Enjoyed your tale of how you turned your novella into a full-fledged. 50,000 words? Gosh, I can barely get a novel under 120,000 words. I’m doing this year’s Christmas short stories for my FB author page. Each one is just around 1,300 words. I’d hate to try to turn one of them into a novel.


  6. Best wishes with extending your story, Stephen, and with fleshing out the characters etc. It’ll be worth it when it’s done! –
    p.s. I’m never sure about word counts these days, Stephen. I had a novel that started off as around 65 k words which wasn’t romantic enough for a particular publisher. To make it fit their categories I had to add around another 20 k. After a 2 year contract ended, I got the rights back and it’s now republished as a ‘not so romantic version’ mostly using my original mystery manuscript but the new editing took it back to around 63 k. It’s now termed as a novella by a number of reviewers because it’s less than 65 k. I’d be pleased for someone to tell me definitively when a novella reaches a novel size.


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