Here’s some good advice from Adrian Magson, from Writing Magazine December 2009:
How do you go about making a short book into a longer one without padding it
into a soggy lump of dough?
Does it have ‘legs’?
If you are convinced about the
strength of your work – that it has the ‘legs’ to be more than just a short
story – you need to consider objectively what makes it so good in the first
place. Is it the theme? The power of the characters? The pace of the storyline?
The timing or relevance for the market? … Do you have such a genuine conviction
about its quality that you can’t bear to drop it in a drawer and forget it? If
so, then you have to look at ways in which you can use what you’ve already got,
and build on it.
What to add, what to take away?
Any scenes added or taken
out must enhance the story, not diminish it. Similarly, any new characters you
introduce must add to the existing cast in a relevant and convincing manner,
rather than simply cluttering up the place like discount night at the local
Throw in a sub-plot?
Could the storyline stand a second
strand or a sub-plot, strongly related to the main events but coming from
another start-point? This would allow you to bring in other points of view, with
the characters coming together later in the story. In each case, you have to
weave the new elements into the main story so that they are not seen as a
bolt-on simply to fill up the pages… As long as your new characters or scenes
don’t assume a greater sequence than your original or skew the story all out of
shape, it can be done.
Introduce more oomph
Let’s pretend for the moment that
your story is based on the Titanic:
Expand the human element
For example, was the engineer
who built the ship working to required specifications, and is there someone,
somewhere who knows otherwise? Is there somebody with a long-term plan who wants
to damage the ship mid-voyage for various reasons, but goes too far, with
disastrous results? Any or all of these could be fed into the mix – along with
suitable back-stories, of course.
Adding more depth
Introducing these other characters, who
are as closely connected to the ship as those on board (perhaps they are even on
board too, and suddenly find themselves pitched into a nightmare of their own
making), allows a greater exploration of the build-up to the main event. And the
more points of view you have – and the very human drama involved – will give you
plenty of material to ‘grow’ your book to a much more satisfactory size while
retaining the quality.
Ann Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a
surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science
fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now.
Follow her at http://eepurl.com/bbOsyz