1. vexx
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    vexx New Member

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    How to expand an idea?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by vexx, Apr 7, 2012.

    Hi,

    I have my plot for a novel planned out but the ideas of what happens at each leg of the outline for the plot I made, like observing something in the world/issues/events that occur but when I try and write it, the idea is wrote out in a way that seems like I got it down but in very few words, I'm not sure of ways to expand the idea to make it into a coherent, long story.

    So any tips for making an actual novel rather then a short story (this is my first novel)?

    I hope I'm making sense, like for example the mother is sick so I conveyed an action of hers when the MC walks passed her and the emotional response which was only a mere 130 words but this is a novel! I want to know how to expand everything and not make it tedious for the reader to spell out the obvious if i went on& on though 130 words to detail something actually relevant to the story.

    Cheers,

    V
     
  2. Just Jon
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    Just Jon Member

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    Yes, yes! I have had the same issues. I had just a little bit to say, but was afraid it was too sparse. I started out by filling it with extra stuff which (as one might guess) made it too wordy, boring, and generally horrendous.

    What has worked for me is to not expand that section. Just leave it and continue on with the rest.

    What I found happening was that I was forced to add more to that section later in order to make other events fit together. As a result, added content was meaningful and not just filler. Ultimately, the story is what it is. If there's more that can happen that supports the goals of my main character, then it can be added in. But if she doesn't have much to say in some circumstance, then that's all I've got.
     
  3. Mark_Archibald
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    Mark_Archibald Active Member

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    Is this your first novel?

    I remember I had the same problem on my first novel attempt. I got the whole story done in 70 pages and I was aiming for 220-250. I have since scrapped that project and have started another.

    The best advice is to practice, practice, practice. Than get feedback on the work you've done. People will tell you where there is excessive description, and what parts need more explanation. You'll develop your writing style, and as you get better you'll be able to paint longer scenes and still maintain interest.

    In short, there is no simple way to fix this problem overnight.
     
  4. Rybe
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    Rybe Member

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    At the risk of making you want to reach through the internet and hit me, I'll repeat the trope "show don't tell." I find when things are going too quickly this is usually the mistake I'm making. Make sure you're describing the surroundings, what's going on, the actions, and if you're doing all that and it's still coming up short? Don't force it, or it'll probably just end up being tedious for all parties.

    On the flip side, I'd just keep chugging along. I felt my current story was going too fast, then I realized I was just barely getting out of the introduction and setup at 35k or so words.
     
  5. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    It sounds like you're summarizing and sometimes that is good, depending on the importance of that event. if it's crucial to the plot (an important scene that pushes the story forward) you could try and write it out more thoroughly, more detailed, like with character actions and dialogue, feelings, thoughts, some description of the setting etc, but if it's just a way of bridging two scenes together then I'd leave it like it is.
     
  6. John Cleary
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    John Cleary Member

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    Sleep on it

    Some times if you sleep on it, the next day new ideas come. Try that and good luck:)
     
  7. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    Mark's right, it's not going to be something to be fixed over night.

    But, I would like to point out, that not all idea's are going to be novel length. Some will be pulled too thin trying to stretch them out like that. That realization is what you need to figure out first. Is your idea/outline really going to go as far as you want it or should you try for a novella or short story?

    I'm not sure if this a good thing or a bad thing, to be honest. I've got a story on the back burner due to this. Sitting there thinking I needed to slow down a bit then realize I'm 30k in and my supposedly supernatural story doesn't have a hint of that yet because I've been building the darn world with it. Mind you, nothing would make sense without it, it's critical but I was like... oh no.
     
  8. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    Edited for double post since the site went funny.

    Couldn't find a delete option, so site mods?
     
  9. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you 'expand' descriptions, conversations, explanations etc simply to make the length required for a novel, you will end up with threadbare, over-stretched, and boring writing. Think 'develop', not 'expand'--more depth, less length.
    Different sub-plots may help, but if you can't find enough in the central plot premise and characters to make the word count for a novel, perhaps you need to totally re-think the work, or make it into a short story instead, or use it as writing practice, stressing less about the number of words you've typed.
     
  10. Dryriver
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    Dryriver Senior Member

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    One good way to expand your novel, perhaps, is to think about your novel/writing in terms of "streams" or "threads" of information that become interwoven as you write (kind of like looking at a woven basket, or an ornate woven carpet).

    So to visualize it a bit better:

    Thread 1 - Descriptions of the environment (rooms, streets, locations, buildings)

    Thread 2 - Descriptions of objects in the environment (things the protagonist sees, touches, manipulates)

    Thread 3 - Descriptions of characters (physical traits, clothing, how a character moves, speaks, interacts)

    Thread 4 - The thought-stream or stream-of-consciousness of the character (what your character thinks and feels in any given moment/situation)

    Thread 5 - Major things that happen around the character (a yello taxi cab rolls down the street honking wildly and turns left, a train with a dozen wagons passes in the distance, an airplane that has just landed taxies to and docks at the arrivals terminal)

    Thread 6 - Minor things that happen around the character (an unseen dog down the street barks crazily at something, a woman stops walking on the sidewalk and fishes for her mobile phone in her handbag, a bunch of men stand behind a moving van removing a leather couch from its interior)

    Thread 7 - Narration of things that happened in the past (your main character remembers his 11th birthday party, remembers a caring teacher saying something to him in high-school, remembers getting talked to and almost beat up by an agitated drunk guy while trying to buy a six-pack of soda and some crisps at a 7-11 late at night)

    Thread 8 - Narration of things that are happening or may be about to happen (main character is made to wait anxiously in doctor's waiting room where there are colorful magazines, main character tries to adjust warmth of shower in the morning and it is either too hot or too cold regardless of what he tries, main character telephones a female friend and waits lost-in-thoughts as the phone rings 5, 6, 7, 8 times and nobody picks up at the other end)


    In your prose, these "threads" will interlock into one, consistent, flowing narrative that the reader can read and understand.

    Each time you need more "volume" in your narrative (to make the narrative and word-count longer), you can dedicate a half-paragraph or a few sentences to one of the "threads" you have running in the background, always picking the one that is the most interesting and relevant at that particular point in the story.

    I hope that makes sense to you...
     
  11. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I started with short stories, a series of them, all united by the same theme, and when I was finished it totalled about 25 000 words. That gave me a good idea of just how much content there should be for a novel of average 100 000 words. Loads.
    You need to study your favourite novels carefully; identify the main plot and subplots, number of characters, and what happens in each of the three acts. Also, get a few books on writing fiction, that deal with the structure, such as "Scene and Structure" and "Writer's Journey". That will give you a better idea of how a novel is written. It is unlike a short story in so many ways, but most of all, it takes huge commitment, a lot of planning, it is difficult, much more so than stories and essays, but ultimately, a novel gives you the freedom to explore the story and the characters to their full potential.
     
  12. shangrila
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    shangrila Member

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    I'm not exactly sure what you mean. Length should never matter; if you're getting across what you want to get across then its fine.

    My main advice, I guess, would be to have more scenes, or more scenarios where your character is dealing with the issue. The important thing to remember is that some things don't take a lot of words to get across. Hell, some things take no description of the emotional state at all. Show, don't tell, as the motto goes. If a person dies and another is crying, you don't have to talk about how that person's emotions are roiling like a storm. Just showing them crying is enough to get across the emotion.
     
  13. Erato
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    Erato Contributing Member

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    January: After eight days and 25K, I exhausted my plot.

    My solution was, write by the seat of my pants for the next 35K or so, focusing on different characters, etc. This was a bad idea. I guess I would say add a bunch of subplots and description and scenes between characters; or even more interestingly, find a niche for a minor character; but like people have said, if it's written the best that it can be written, don't worry about length.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Some stories just don't have enough to them to fill a novel. Yes, you can build up a story, but maybe you should be thinking instead of condensing it to a tight short story.

    I came to this site with no interest in writing a novel. Short stories may not make you rich, but they have a special appeal. A well written short story can leave your reader with an emotional peak and a lot to think about, all the more because it didn;t take the long route to get there.

    I only began working on a novel when I had a short story that had much more to say, that wouldn't fit in a short.

    If the story isn't well suited for a novel, maybe you shouldn't try building it into one. Wait until you have an idea that needs to be pruned down to novel size.
     
  15. vexx
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    vexx New Member

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    Wow thanks all, I didn't expect such a good response!!
    @Dryriver - that was exactly the answer i was looking for but everyone else you gave me so much more, this forum is awesome!! haha. I think I may have some stupid questions but I'll go through the responses carefully first and post if so. :)
     

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