By Stephen Buehler
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. What 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. http://www.stephenbuehler.com