Ask Wendy: Can my (contest) published short story be turned into a novel?

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Just got this question from Suzanne: 

Q: I was wondering if I were to enter a short story in a contest, and it is published and well received, can that story be used to turn into a novel ?

A:  For the most part, the answer is yes. You can’t copyright ideas (and turning a story into a novel would mean a complete rewrite). One thing to watch for is if an anthology buys “all rights” – in which case you would not own rights to your own piece anymore. You would still be able to write a novel about the idea, but in terms of using the exact same piece again (like if you ever did a collection of your own short stories), they would own the rights to that story.

3 responses »

  1. hey, I am a gret writer who would like to get noticed. I have writen a good short story that I would like people to read. I am most good at descriptive writing. Take a look:

    The Beach

    The fresh smell of fried doughboys and crab cakes filled my nose as I walked through the sand. Seagulls gracefully flew above my head waiting for people to drop some food on the golden surface. I looked up at the sky and saw different shades of greens, blues and pinks. Sand filled between my toes as if they were a resting place. People chattered around me, some eating, some lying on there back, but all enjoying themselves.
    I stepped in the warm and soothing blue water. Everything around me began to disappear the further I got into the water. Seaweed wrapped around my ankles softly. I could feel my feet sinking in the sand slowly. Once further enough in the water, I could smell the salt rising through my nostrils. I closed my eyes and thought of a place that I would love to be at this moment, but the thought faded. The chattering in the background was no longer audible to my ears. In the distance I saw abstract clouds and the rise of the sun. When I tried to take a step forward my legs would not move. It was as if I was meant to be in this spot. As I wrapped my hands around my chest a smile slides across my face. The wind was becoming strong and I prayed that my bare arms would provide me with some warmth.
    When the wind became unbearable, I stepped out the water and onto the dry sand. The smell of fried food blessed my nose once again. With fewer people around, seagulls walked on the sand with ease and ambition. The darker the sky got the more shades came out. People were now putting there things away, but were hesitant about leaving their beautiful surrounding. Once at the spot where I had laid my single towel I wrapped it around me. Walking to my car seemed like a death sentence. I stepped on the cold, frail concrete that quickly took my smile away.

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