1. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Short story or novel -- how to extend the plot

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Lea`Brooks, Jun 30, 2013.

    So I've got this idea... It came to me in a dream (as most of my ideas do), and I decided to turn it into a short story. The plot was simple enough so I thought I could pump it out in no time. However.. I seem to have gotten really into it.

    The story is about an island, one that houses every species of nymph in the world. And atop that island is a castle. It is there that the Queen of the Nymphs resides. She was the grandest of all because she was an ice nymph, a Cruoseid, the rarest type of nymph in the world. But then she died (I haven't worked out the details yet) and the nymphs on the island were forced to elect a new queen. But the elected soon turned to war when they were unable to agree on a leader. So the nymphs split into three groups. There is the nice nymphs, who refused to hurt the earth or the animals and nymphs who lived on it. There is the smart nymphs, who use elaborate strategies and tricks to win battles. And there's the wild nymphs, the ones that will do anything to win, even if it means killing everyone on the island.

    Originally, I had intended to write it as a short story. I would start off in the middle of the battle, following my MC (a wetlands nymph) through the events. I would have her best friend betray her and join the wild nymphs in an attempt to win. I would have my MC become so distraught at the state of the war that she attempts to surrender herself, only to be kidnapped and transported to another island, where the rare Cruoseids live. My MC would find out that she is in fact a Cruoseid, placed on the island to bring peace and unity to the nymphs. But since they were unable to do that on their own, the Cruoseids take control and kill everyone who has killed another as punishment. Then they place my MC as the queen of the island.

    It was supposed to be easy. Quick in, quick out. But then I got hooked. I found 27 different types of nymphs, with each one given an ability and strength, and have 23 main and supporting characters, each with a distinct personality and picture to associate me with them, with an additional 19 characters (just for casual mention). So now I feel like I HAVE to turn this into a novel. Or at least a novella.

    My problem is.. I don't know how to extend it! I wasn't really going to write battle scenes or anything.. I guess I could do that if I want to extend it. But does anyone know where I could find information on common battle strategies or how to write descriptions of them? I guess I could throw a love story in there too.. I had a minor love encounter idea, but I hadn't focused on it too much. Is there any other way I could draw this out further? I really love the idea and I feel that I've accidently put too much effort into it to make it a short story.


    Thanks a heap!
    Lea
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    If you just throw in love affairs and battle scenes it may not work. Just throwing stuff at your MC lacks a key element, what is your MC's internal conflict? Why does the battle or the love affair matter to the character? How do the elements move the story through to its conclusion?

    You have some of that in your description. You need the story elements you add to have a reason they've been added or they run the risk of sounding like filler. I would work with your themes more and expand on what your MC needs to grow or become a better person, an internal struggle in addition to the external struggles, something like that.
     
  3. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Basically, I just want to reiterate what I've already said: think about whether your characters need to be around for longer by writing a novel. Characters are obviously a lot like people, and sometimes one extremely exciting thing can happen in their lives...and that's about it. It depends on their personality and daily routine; many factors determine if characters can be around for a bit longer. You may love your universe, like the one in my short story, but sometimes you just have to let it go. There will always be new ideas and exciting characters to write about. This is why many sequels don't work with beginning writers - they feel that they can force the characters into a new story, an exciting event, but it works the other way too. Characters have a life of their own, and if you screw it up just to be with them for a little longer, it can all fall apart.

    Perhaps I've overstayed my welcome here, but just think about whether your characters have potential for more stories. And hey, maybe you could just finish your short story and write a novel set in the same universe, only with new characters, and possibly even a new generation. Just throwing ideas to you, here! ;)

    Hope this helps you on your way. :)
     
  4. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thomas -- I haven't actually written the story yet. I wrote the first "chapter" a few months ago. I just went back to it today to re-examine it and realized I hated it. lol So I'm basically starting from scratch.

    I know it sounds like I have a lot of characters.. But really, I only have 7 main characters. My MC, three of her BFFs (lol), her love interest, and two enemies. The other 16 are for story-telling purposes -- supporting characters, if you will. It's a war. So there's going to be a lot of war talk. I need a lot of people from my MC's tribe. I need at least three from the other two tribes. And then I need the rare Cruoseids to be part of their legends and whatnot, so I'll have two of them towards the end. To that's the basic 16 additional right there. The 19 extras are just that -- extras. I have no personalities for them, no imagery of them in my head. I just have names and their race in case I need to mention them during a war meeting or a death or something. Even if they never speak, I feel that they'll at least need names, otherwise it seems like this war is between just a handful of people. There's supposed to be 500+ nymphs battling it out. So I think I've limited myself pretty well. lol

    You're right, though, about adding stuff just to add stuff. I don't think I'll actually be able to extend this story to a novel. That's just way too much I'd need to throw into it. But a novella or a novelette, maybe. "Short story" just seems too short for what I want to do now. I already had a love interest with her. I'll probably expand on this just a little bit. I'll probably throw some more conflict in there to bring her spirits down, too. I think that'll be enough!

    Ginger -- Your advice really helped me. I keep forgetting that my MC needs to grow. lol My MC is one of the "I will never hurt anyone or the earth" nymphs. She's very sweet and innocent, but I need her to feel like the war is never going to end. That the nymphs will never find peace and get along. That no matter which side wins, the island will never be a calm place to live again. I almost need her to get angry, too, so that when all the nymphs die at the end, she's okay with it. So I think I need to progress my story to fit that.. I kind of touched on it with her best friend abandoning her. I think I need someone important to die, too.. Then maybe she'll REALLY feel hopeless. OR! Maybe I could have her get really angry at one of the enemy nymphs, so she finally lashes out and the resulting battle kills one of her friends. Then she'll feel guilty but angry at the same time. Hm... That's interesting.

    Thank you both for your input. :) It really helped clear my head.


    Blessings,
    Lea
     
  5. u.v.ray
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    u.v.ray Member

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    >> does anyone know where I could find information on common battle strategies or how to write descriptions of them? <<

    I don't know much about this genre of writing. Regardless of genre, however, my only thought was that whether it's a short story or a novel 23 main and secondary characters with distinct personalities sounds like too many.

    Anyway, to answer the above question: The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene. He also wrote two other books that are useful: The 48 Laws of Power and The Art of Seduction.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sometimes there just isn't enough story to fill a novel. Sure, you can add complications to build up the story,but maybe you're better off condensing it to a taut short story than inflating it to a novel.
     

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