Not Enough Novel for a Novel?

Lightbox for Dec 26 - not enough novel for a novel

Writing too many words as discussed in my most recent Post can have its benefits. But what if we need a specific length and don’t have enough words to fill that requirement?

  1. Develop a story or two to weave in.
  2. Make them form a “rope” or a “braid” toward the end.
  3. Trim off the “ends” (literally!) until only the Protagonist is left then have him/her ride off into the sunset.

ta-da The End

How Am I Going to Do That?

Remember all those story ideas we’ve been writing down on index cards and storing in alphabetical order in a lovely holder we picked up at that antique shop and that we keep on the right hand side of the second shelf of the bookcase in the study? No?

OK, then …

Remember that notebook we’ve had since high school or college with scribbling in it and into which we stuff all manner of notes and story ideas written on restaurant napkins, facial tissues, scraps of paper, and right at the moment can’t remember where the hell we left it?

Yes. That’s the one.

Find it. Dig it out.

Sort through the story ideas and any that are fairly well-developed (meaning there’s at least one sentence written) that are set in the …

  1. same genre;
  2. same venue (town, city or country);
  3. same time frame; and
  4. same target readership

will be absolute GOLD!

And they will also be absolute FUN to play with.


What Next?

Keeping the plot of our main story in mind, figure out some kind of [undisclosed as yet] backstory that will connect our new characters to the Protagonist and write their story from there.

(Each of these subplots will have its own sub-Protagonist and sub-Antagonist.)

Since we now have a goal to aim for — i.e., connecting the subplot with the main plot toward the end of the story — our writer’s block should disappear for that original story. (The idea of writing a story backwards is an excellent one that I picked up from a screenwriting how-to. Unfortunately, the name of it and its author have drifted off into the ether.)

An intimate connection of subplot with main story is crucial. The novel won’t work without it.

Motivations for subplot characters are paramount and usually hidden until the threads connect at the end. This is where the “fun” part comes in. I actually cackle with glee when my Muse tosses a subplot motive into my head. (She is just pure evil and that’s why I love my Muse so much. xox)

How Many Subplots?

Don’t go overboard with too many subplots because the reader’s sympathy for the main Protagonist will be diminished exponentially. (This is related to my fave bugbear: POV bouncing.)

If using two subplots, it’s a good idea to weave these in with each other fairly early on. Why? If we suddenly bring in all kinds of subplots all at once, our novel will look like we didn’t have enough words to fill it out and just went through some old notes and tossed them in …


I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone all kinds of pleasant surprises in 2016


Next Post — Surprise! Surprise!

Sherrill Wark is the author of Really Stupid Writing Mistakes: How to Avoid Them:

… and Death in l’Acadie: a Kesk8a story (fiction):


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s