Length (Overall) - Where to add

by Dawna

Question:I feel the overall length of my story is way too short, and I am not really sure where to add anything. How do I figure that out?

I have become dissatisfied with my novel twice now and rewritten it. Either I don't think the setting is productive to the story, or I think certain events move too fast. I have now preplanned my chapters and events, hoping this will solve many of my issues.

Do you have any other advice, so that I can write my novel to a satisfactory length?


1. Make sure assume you are narrating your events in enough detail that the reader can experience the story vividly (and if you're not, explore some basic resources on creative writing).

2. Have you developed all 4 throughlines (overall story, main character, impact character, and relationship), as well as perhaps some subplots that express other aspects of your theme?

3. If you've taken care of the first two and your story is coming up too short for a novel, you might try turning your major events into sequences of events or scenes. Any plot event can be converted into a sequence with its own dramatic arc, as in ...

Scene 1: inciting event
Scene 2: complication/conflict
Scene 3: crisis
Scene 4: resolution

For instance, let's say you have an event such as, "Dave gets a new job." You could tell it in one scene with Dave at his job interview. Or you could break it into a sequence such as...

Scene 1: Dave argues with his wife who is upset that he is out of work.
Scene 2: Dave learns of a job opening, but the company is owned by an old enemy of his from high school.
Scene 3: Dave swallows his price and forces himself to go to the interview and make nice to the owner, against all his instincts.
Scene 4: At home, Dave gets a phone call telling him he can start on Monday, only to have his wife chew him out because she thinks the job is beneath him.

You can also create theme sequences to explore the issues in your story. I've described the basic process here...


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