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3 things you can do when your story is too short

It happens to every writer occasionally. No matter how clearly you outline and how verbose you feel as you are writing, you get to the conclusion of your story and your word count leaves something to be desired. Do you leave it as is and try to promote a short piece? Or do you try to increase your word count to where you were hoping it would end up?

If you chose option A, this is the place for you. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to give your word count a kick in the butt.

  1. Explore side characters. Maybe your sidekick has a backstory that you haven’t explored. Maybe your hero has family who you mentioned in passing that you could include in the story directly. I’m not advising you to add fluff for fluff’s sake, but very often writing about these side characters can add depth and interest to your story that would otherwise be missing.
  2. Show, don’t tell. On a somewhat related note, are there scenes in your story where you gloss over a scene rather than exploring it completely? Could you be accused of telling when you could be showing? It’s good advice in general that you should show and not tell in fiction, but this goes double when you are looking to add to your word count totals.
  3. Look into subplots. This one might seem obvious, but it’s very easy to get so focused on your main plot that you forget a novel isn’t just your hero and your heroine from point A to point B. Having some complications along the way doesn’t just make things more fun, it helps your reader better bond with your characters, and makes your characters feel more like people and less like two dimensional figures.

When it comes down to it, lengthening a story shouldn’t just be about padding your word count. In order to boost your word count while also staying true to your original story, it’s important to think about why you are doing it and now just how. Keep these things in mind and before you know it, you’ll have a fantastic (and fantastically longer) story on your hands.

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  1. Pessimist Poetry

    Definitely agree with the “show and not tell” portion when writing content. It took a long time for me to learn that lesson, but it made me a much better write in comparison. Show the story, as readers don’t want to be TOLD about it; telling someone something just makes for boring content.

  2. David

    There’s some interesting suggestions here, but if you insert sub-plots and side characters are you running the risk of shoehorning into your tale? I mean, sub-plots and side characters aught naturally to be included in to a tale and if you are having to add these later does that mean that the original plot wasn’t well enough developed? Interesting to hear your views.

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