Stretching a Short Story into a Longer Oneby Lori Beasley Bradley
My name is Lori Beasley Bradley, and I just self-published my first short novel with Createspace in July 2014. The Legend of the Swamp Witch began as a campfire story I made up several years ago. When I was going over ideas for a novel, that old story came to mind, and I ran with it.
I began with my historical witch character’s backstory and how she ended up dead in the swamp. When I got to that point, I only had a few thousand words. Where was I going to go from there? I decided to add chapters about all the men who triggered the curse over the following century-and-a-half. In that way, I took the story from 1858 to 1867, 1898, 1922, 1945, 1975, and then finished in the present, where a distant female relative of my witch, along with three other male treasure hunters, stumbles across the witch’s remains and her treasure.
I used to tell this ghost story around campfires for many years, and my Witch character was very clear in my head. So was my present-day relative who ends up with the gold and silver. I had my beginning and my end. Now I just had to come up with twenty or thirty thousand words to fill in the middle.
By stringing together six additional short stories, all related to the witch and her treasure, I carried the story into the present and illustrated how legends are created over time with the telling and retelling of the same tale.
It was really fun to write, but I did not use a professional editor before publishing. This was a big mistake on my part. I subsequently received some editorial help and have since edited and republished the manuscript. That is one of the beautiful things about self-publishing. You can always go in and fix your mistakes.
Marketing is another story all together. Funny how I always thought the writing was supposed to be the hard part!