Transitioning from the Short Story to the Novel: Really Useful Links by Lucy O’Callaghan | Resources | Essential Guides | Links for Writers
Lucy O'Callaghan

Lucy O’Callaghan

Transitioning from the Short Story to the Novel

For some people writing short stories is their preferred form, for others they are a way to develop their writing, learn the craft, and progress to writing a novel. But short stories are a very different craft to writing a novel. I have put together some articles and podcasts about the differences between the short story and the novel and tips to transition from writing one to the other.

  1. Transitioning from Short Story to Novel – Black Gate

This article explains that the move from a short story to a novel isn’t about scaling up the word count. It’s about scaling up the ideas, the characters, the conflict, and the world. For writing a novel, you need time, and it’s essential to have a conscious and consistent schedule. It takes a lot longer to get the story down never mind the edits. Maintaining momentum is important too. While writing short stories can be a burst of creativity, a short dash, novel writing is a gruelling marathon. Goal setting can help to break down the stages of writing a novel and make them feel more achievable.

  1. 5 Steps to Go From Short Story to Novel Writing | Liminal Pages

This article from Liminal Pages shares 5 simple steps to help you transition from short story writing to novel writing. Understanding that novel writing is totally different from the short story is important. There is a difference in structure, depth, and pacing. You must develop an idea that has the potential for greater depth. Novels aren’t longer than short stories only because more stuff happens, they’re longer because they explore ideas in greater depth. Finding the right balance between planning your novel and allowing enough space for creativity is important too, as is keeping your writing on track to completion.

  1. Transitioning from Short Stories to Novels – Indireads

Indireads also compares writing with running, with the short story being a hundred-yard sprint and the novel, a cross-country race. The differences between the two forms are clear. One requires speed, the other stamina. The transition from one to the other is a matter of understanding how best to tell a story. Short stories don’t necessarily include complete plots and can be based on a moment in time, a quick glimpse that leads to something profound. The difference with a novel isn’t just in length, it’s the entire concept. This article says the writer should view this as freedom. Freedom to have a richly layered novel through your characters, subplots, and settings. Yet you should plan and keep track of the different threads.

  1. Writing a Short Story vs a Novel – Mythcreants

This article discusses the pros and cons of shorter stories. It describes how viewing story structure zoomed way out, as we do with a short story, we sometimes can’t spot anything other than the beginning, climax, and ending. But, with a novel, we’re zoomed close enough not only to see the beginning, climax, and ending but also the smaller peaks and valleys. It discusses the difference in complexity between the forms, the windup and wind down, the presentation of information, and the significance of details.

  1. How to Develop a Short Story Into a Novel – 2023 – MasterClass

This article from Masterclass discusses how to develop a short story into a novel and shares 7 steps to do this. Re-examine your story – do your main characters feel like they could exist in real life? Does your main plot have room for more development? Search through your basic idea – look for ways to organically branch off the storylines you’ve already created. Develop new characters, expand your setting, include more subplots, and go beyond the ending. The end of your short story doesn’t have to be the end of your novel.

  1. The Difference Between Short Story and Novel Writing | Liminal Pages

This is another article from Liminal Pages and a useful one. This one discusses the difference between short story and novel writing. The main difference between a novel and a short story is that a novel is a journey not only for the characters but for the writer and the reader. A short story is an intense experience – something to linger on and savour. Other differences explained are length and pacing, plots and subplots, the complexity of conflict, timespan, and depth. The article shares an example of how a short story could turn into a novel using the short story ‘One of These Days’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.


In this video from Author Up, Michael covers the transition from the short story to the novel.

I belong in a Book host Emily discusses the difference between a short story and a novel and how a writer should approach each type of story.

In this Film Courage video, author and instructor Jonathan Blum discusses the structure of short stories compared to longer forms of storytelling like novels or novellas.

Transforming from writing short stories to novels is not easy but it is doable. Studying the two forms will help you to understand how to do this, I hope you have found this week’s column useful. As always, please get in touch if there are any topics you would like me to cover.

(c) Lucy O’Callaghan

Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31.

Facebook: @LucyCOCallaghan

Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

About the author

Writing since she was a child, Lucy penned her first story with her father called Arthur’s Arm, at the ripe old age of eight. She has been writing ever since. Inspired by her father’s love of the written word and her mother’s encouragement through a constant supply of wonderful stationary, she wrote short stories for her young children, which they subsequently illustrated.
A self-confessed people watcher, stories that happen to real people have always fascinated her and this motivated her move to writing contemporary women’s fiction. Her writing has been described as pacy, human, moving and very real.
Lucy has been part of a local writing group for over ten years and has taken creative writing classes with Paul McVeigh, Jamie O’Connell and Curtis Brown Creative. She truly found her tribe when she joined Writer’s Ink in May 2020. Experienced in beta reading and critiquing, she is currently editing and polishing her debut novel, The Lies Beneath – to be published by Poolbeg in 2023.
Follow her on Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31. Facebook and Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

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