Lengthening My Book

by Paige
(Bermuda)

Question: I am having trouble making my book longer. I feel like I am at the climax of the novel on Chapter 7 and my chapters are already short. How can I increase the size of my book?


Answer: First, it is possible that your story idea is more suitable for a novella or short story than a novel. It happens.

On the other hand, it may be that you haven't taken the time to develop your idea as fully as it deserves. Here are some of the ways that a story idea can be developed.

1. Event structure. Think of a story as a big event that is a major change in the lives of the characters. That event can be divided into four smaller events or acts, representing the beginning of the pursuit of the goal (or setup), complications, the move towards a crisis, and the resolution. Each of these events can also be broken into a similar sequence of events.

For instance, if one event is "Bob gets a new car," you can write that event as one scene, or you can break it into a sequence. Perhaps it starts with a scene where he realizes his old car is hurting his image. The complication may be that he is offered a sales job that requires him to have a better car that's out of his price range. The crisis may be when his reluctant parents refuse to loan him the money for a new car. The resolution may be his grandfather's sudden decision to give him his car.

If you turn each act into a sequence of 4-6 events, your story will contain 16-24 events.

2. The four throughlines. A complete story involves four throughlines. In addition to the overall story arc, there is the main character's throughline, which shows the arc of his/her inner conflict, the impact character throughline, and the relationship throughline.

I've written a lot on these throughlines on this site, but this article may get you started...

http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/writing-an-outline.html

Suffice it to say that each of these throughlines can have its own 4-part arc. That's 16 major events so far. If each of these events is divided into a sequence, you're now up to between 64 and 96 events. That's enough for a short novel at least.

3. Theme events. Sometimes you include events to develop your thematic message. For instance, if your theme is greed vs. generosity, you may have some events showing greed is bad, some showing greed is good, some showing generosity is good, and some showing generosity is bad. Of course, you make the balance of evidence support the message you want to give.

4. Subplots. You can use these to develop other perspectives on your theme, or to develop characters' backgrounds (to explain their actions), or to show the progress of their relationships. It's best to have a meaningful purpose for subplots. Each subplot can also have its own 4-part arc.

Bottom line: there are many ways you can develop a story. The important thing is to make sure everything you add makes the story better, more emotionally engaging. Make sure every event is an essential part of the what's becoming a richer story.

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