3 Ways to Add Depth to a Novel


By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

 I recently received an email from a young writer, Theresa, who asked this question:

“My books come out more like short stories (under a hundred pages) rather than full books. Are there any tips or tricks that you can share with me about further developing the story line and characters to make my books longer?”

Thanks for a great question, Theresa!

Most of my adult novels are approximately 100,000 words in length (over 300 pages). As I thought about what I do to reach that amount, I came up with three main things.

1. Give the external plot more than one type of literary conflict.

Most writers develop their plot around some kind of external conflict usually involving a “bad guy” (also known as an antagonist or Man vs. Man). That’s all well and good. But there are other ways to bring about additional conflict: Man vs. Society, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Himself, Man vs. Technology. (Here’s a really great post that explains the “Big Five” types of literary conflict.)

I often try to have more than one of these types of conflict going throughout my physical plot. For example, my heroine in For Love & Honor is not only battling a creepy antagonist (Man vs. Man), but she’s also struggling against the community who thinks she’s a witch (Man vs. Society) as well as starvation and hardships from a castle siege (Man vs. Nature).

The more types of literary conflict we add to the physical plot, the more complex our story becomes.

2. Give your characters deep internal problems to work through.

Another way to add more layers to a story is by making our characters deeper, getting below their skin to the heart. We have to delve inside the real, raw, emotional issues and problems that our characters are going through.

A word of caution. This is more than just our characters expressing their reactions to the physical plot, which is important too. Of course they need to show and express appropriate feelings in regards to the antagonist.

However, an emotional plot is a bigger internal conflict that we weave throughout the entire story. This is usually a character flaw or problem like fear, pride, insecurity, etc. that is related to our character’s backstory.

For example, in For Love & Honor, the heroine is struggling with insecurity over a blemish that she’s been born with. This insecurity stems in part from her father’s rejection of her as a little girl for that blemish, which has made her feel bad about herself and believe that others will reject her too. Throughout the story, circumstances force the heroine to wrestle through this emotional issue. Her growth is part of her character arc—working through the insecurity and becoming a stronger person by the end of the story.

The more we intertwine this emotional plot with the physical, the fuller and richer our story will be and the better our readers connect with our characters.

3. Give the setting the respect it’s due.

Another way stories can lack depth is by overlooking setting and focusing too much on plot and characters.

Setting is hard to “get right.” Sometimes we err by not getting enough setting details, especially in our effort to develop a fast, page-turning plot. Sometimes we err by randomly tacking on setting details almost as an after-thought. And then sometimes, we even ramble on eloquently, but the purple prose usually only bores readers.

Instead, we want to give the setting the respect that it’s due and treat it as both part of the plot and as a character unto itself. To do so, we focus on descriptions and sensory details that relate to the moods and pace of the plot. When we do that, the setting comes alive, like another character that has needs and flaws and history that we can slowly and carefully develop.

When we view the setting as more than mere descriptions but as a living force within the story, then we’re usually able to add the appropriate details at the right times, keeping our readers grounded in the story but not overloading them.

My Summary: Obviously, there are lots of other ways to add substance to novels including varied subplots, additional character viewpoints, developing minor characters, creating more scenes, etc.

As we’re looking at increasing a novel’s length, we clearly don’t want to add more words just to reach an arbitrary word count goal. Rather we should make every word count for something.

What about YOU? How do you add depth to your stories? 

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16 comments:

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    Hello everyone am Lucas Martinez from USA, after 15 years of marriage, me and my wife were living happily together we loved each other so much and I Loved my family they were my top priority, until one morning me and my wife had a little argument which I know every couples do have because there are no perfect couples in this world after the argument I went to work when I came home I couldn't find my wife and our kids she also packed her bags and that of the kids and left I tried calling her but I couldn't reach her I went to her friend's house but they couldn't tell me where to find her, I was frustrated I didn't know what to do I started drinking alcohol every day and night I stopped going to work it was a difficult thing for me because she and my kids means everything to me it's was like part of my body left me I couldn't function well, one day I was browsing on the Internet when I saw a testimony of someone testifying of a man called Dr Perfect and how he brought back his wife within 24 hours I didn't think twice about it I messaged him and told him everything that happened between me and my wife and he said he find my problem very easy for him to solve he also told me to trust him that my wife will come back and I told him I trust him and he asked for some information which I gave him, 24 hours later my wife came back home with the kids I was so surprised to see her it was like a dream to me she started crying and apologizing to me I told her it's okay I forgive her that am happy she is back we are now living happily together. If you are heart broken because your wife or husband left you email this powerful love spell caster called Dr Perfect via email

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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. CONTACT DR PERFECT TODAY VIA EMAIL solutiontoallproblems1@gmail.com AND GET YOUR BROKEN MARRIAGE RESTORED BACK WITHIN 24 HOURS

      Hello everyone am Lucas Martinez from USA, after 15 years of marriage, me and my wife were living happily together we loved each other so much and I Loved my family they were my top priority, until one morning me and my wife had a little argument which I know every couples do have because there are no perfect couples in this world after the argument I went to work when I came home I couldn't find my wife and our kids she also packed her bags and that of the kids and left I tried calling her but I couldn't reach her I went to her friend's house but they couldn't tell me where to find her, I was frustrated I didn't know what to do I started drinking alcohol every day and night I stopped going to work it was a difficult thing for me because she and my kids means everything to me it's was like part of my body left me I couldn't function well, one day I was browsing on the Internet when I saw a testimony of someone testifying of a man called Dr Perfect and how he brought back his wife within 24 hours I didn't think twice about it I messaged him and told him everything that happened between me and my wife and he said he find my problem very easy for him to solve he also told me to trust him that my wife will come back and I told him I trust him and he asked for some information which I gave him, 24 hours later my wife came back home with the kids I was so surprised to see her it was like a dream to me she started crying and apologizing to me I told her it's okay I forgive her that am happy she is back we are now living happily together. If you are heart broken because your wife or husband left you email this powerful love spell caster called Dr Perfect via email

      solutiontoallproblems1@gmail.com

      You can also message him on WhatsApp +(1)256-251-3614

      Delete
    2. GET BACK YOUR EX FAST, SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE FROM DIVORCE AND AMEND YOUR BROKEN RELATIONSHIP WITH THE HELP OF DR GREAT CALL OR WHATSAPP +2348118829899

      Hello everyone i am happy to spread my testimony of a strong spell caster called Dr Great. I'm Kaitlyn Houston and i live in USA, my husband and i had a little fight because of that he wanted to divorce me i was so afraid to lose him because i love him very much so i search online for help and i saw alot of people's testimonies on how Dr Great help them and came out with positive results like Divorces, Cancers, lotteries, fertilities and others. So i emailed him and told him my problem and he told me what to do and I did it as he instructed, 24 hours later he told me he is done with the spell and my husband will no longer divorce me and when my husband came back from work he told me he won't divorce me anymore he said he didn't know what came over him that he is sorry I was so happy and I thank Dr Great for his help If you need Dr Great help email him at infinitylovespell@gmail.com or infinitylovespell@yahoo.com my page https://kaitlynhouston19.blogspot.com you can also add him on WhatsApp +2348118829899 and he will put an end to your problem

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    3. WOW WOW WOW GREAT NEWS DOC I MADE THIS FOR YOU





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      THANKS DOC FOR YOUR GOOD WORK

      Delete
    4. I am one of those people who said, “I’ll never call a psychic or a magician or whatever” to help me with my problems – least of all my love problems, but I reached the point where I knew I needed some guidance, and I’m so glad I found this man called dr.ajeghe. When I nearly lost David in one of ouar stupid,fights (he broke up with me), I thought I had lost everything.i cry all day and think that he will never come back to me again.i read so many testimony about Dr. ajeghe love spell,how he help to bring back ex lover back.I quickly email him.and also get back my husband with his love spell. And when I was at my most desperate,he didn’t take advantage of me. You performed a very good service for a person in true need. I don’t know how you did it, or how this magic works, but all I know is, IT WORKS!! David my husband and I are happily back together, and I’ll always be grateful to dr.ajeghe email him for any kinds of help is very capable and reliable for help ajeghespelltemple@gmail.com or WhatsApp him +2349069171173
      His Blog> https://ajeghespelltemple.blogspot.com

      Delete
  2. CONTACT DR PERFECT TODAY VIA EMAIL solutiontoallproblems1@gmail.com AND GET YOUR BROKEN MARRIAGE RESTORED BACK WITHIN 24 HOURS

    Hello everyone am Lucas Martinez from USA, after 15 years of marriage, me and my wife were living happily together we loved each other so much and I Loved my family they were my top priority, until one morning me and my wife had a little argument which I know every couples do have because there are no perfect couples in this world after the argument I went to work when I came home I couldn't find my wife and our kids she also packed her bags and that of the kids and left I tried calling her but I couldn't reach her I went to her friend's house but they couldn't tell me where to find her, I was frustrated I didn't know what to do I started drinking alcohol every day and night I stopped going to work it was a difficult thing for me because she and my kids means everything to me it's was like part of my body left me I couldn't function well, one day I was browsing on the Internet when I saw a testimony of someone testifying of a man called Dr Perfect and how he brought back his wife within 24 hours I didn't think twice about it I messaged him and told him everything that happened between me and my wife and he said he find my problem very easy for him to solve he also told me to trust him that my wife will come back and I told him I trust him and he asked for some information which I gave him, 24 hours later my wife came back home with the kids I was so surprised to see her it was like a dream to me she started crying and apologizing to me I told her it's okay I forgive her that am happy she is back we are now living happily together. If you are heart broken because your wife or husband left you email this powerful love spell caster called Dr Perfect via email

    solutiontoallproblems1@gmail.com

    You can also message him on WhatsApp +1(256)-251-3614

    ReplyDelete
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  5. GET BACK YOUR EX FAST, SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE FROM DIVORCE AND AMEND YOUR BROKEN RELATIONSHIP WITH THE HELP OF DR GREAT CALL OR WHATSAPP +2348118829899

    Hello everyone i am happy to spread my testimony of a strong spell caster called Dr Great. I'm Kaitlyn Houston and i live in USA, my husband and i had a little fight because of that he wanted to divorce me i was so afraid to lose him because i love him very much so i search online for help and i saw alot of people's testimonies on how Dr Great help them and came out with positive results like Divorces, Cancers, lotteries, fertilities and others. So i emailed him and told him my problem and he told me what to do and I did it as he instructed, 24 hours later he told me he is done with the spell and my husband will no longer divorce me and when my husband came back from work he told me he won't divorce me anymore he said he didn't know what came over him that he is sorry I was so happy and I thank Dr Great for his help If you need Dr Great help email him at infinitylovespell@gmail.com or infinitylovespell@yahoo.com my page https://kaitlynhouston19.blogspot.com you can also add him on WhatsApp +2348118829899 and he will put an end to your problem

    ReplyDelete
  6. GET BACK YOUR EX FAST, SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE FROM DIVORCE AND AMEND YOUR BROKEN RELATIONSHIP WITH THE HELP OF DR GREAT CALL OR WHATSAPP +2348118829899

    Hello everyone i am happy to spread my testimony of a strong spell caster called Dr Great. I'm Kaitlyn Houston and i live in USA, my husband and i had a little fight because of that he wanted to divorce me i was so afraid to lose him because i love him very much so i search online for help and i saw alot of people's testimonies on how Dr Great help them and came out with positive results like Divorces, Cancers, lotteries, fertilities and others. So i emailed him and told him my problem and he told me what to do and I did it as he instructed, 24 hours later he told me he is done with the spell and my husband will no longer divorce me and when my husband came back from work he told me he won't divorce me anymore he said he didn't know what came over him that he is sorry I was so happy and I thank Dr Great for his help If you need Dr Great help email him at infinitylovespell@gmail.com or infinitylovespell@yahoo.com my page https://kaitlynhouston19.blogspot.com you can also add him on WhatsApp +2348118829899 and he will put an end to your problem

    ReplyDelete
  7. WOW WOW WOW GREAT NEWS DOC I MADE THIS FOR YOU





    Hello everyone, am very happy to share this little awesome testimony about Dr olu a great herbal doctor who help me enlarge my penis size.3.2 cm to 8.3 cm longer with his herbal cream mixture, my girlfriend is now so amazed with the autonomous size of my penis , if you you are also in need of help on how to enlarge your penis to become bigger and stronger I adverse you to contact Dr on his email (drolusolutionhome@gmail.com) ) you or contact on whatsapp number +2348140654426 because he is one of the best herbal doctor that i can only show you up to, if your penis is 4.2 cm and want to get it reach 9.2 cm within three weeks i Dr olu is also specialized on obey m breast and boobs enlargement i advise you to contact him for help




    THANKS DOC FOR YOUR GOOD WORK

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hello viewers around the Globe, I was despondent because i had a very small penis, about 2.5 inches soft and 4 inches hard not nice enough to satisfy a woman, i have been in so many relationship, but cut off because of my situation, i have used so many product which doctors for me, but none could offer me the help i searched for. i saw some few comments on the INTERNET about this specialist called Dr,OLU and decided to contact him on his email: Drolusolutinthome@gmail.com) so I decided to give his herbal product a try. i emailed him and he got back to me, he gave me some comforting words with his herbal pills for Penis Enlargement, Within 3 week of it, i began to feel the enlargement was surprised when she said that she is satisfied with my sex and i have got a large penis. Am so happy, thanks to Dr OLU I also learn that Dr OLU also help with Breast Enlargement Hips and Bums Enlargement etc.. If you are in any situation with a little Penis, weak ejaculation, small breast_hips_bums do get to Dr OLU now for help on his email (Drolusolutionhome@gmail.com) or add him on whatsapp line +2348140654426

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  11. I am one of those people who said, “I’ll never call a psychic or a magician or whatever” to help me with my problems – least of all my love problems, but I reached the point where I knew I needed some guidance, and I’m so glad I found this man called dr.ajeghe. When I nearly lost David in one of ouar stupid,fights (he broke up with me), I thought I had lost everything.i cry all day and think that he will never come back to me again.i read so many testimony about Dr. ajeghe love spell,how he help to bring back ex lover back.I quickly email him.and also get back my husband with his love spell. And when I was at my most desperate,he didn’t take advantage of me. You performed a very good service for a person in true need. I don’t know how you did it, or how this magic works, but all I know is, IT WORKS!! David my husband and I are happily back together, and I’ll always be grateful to dr.ajeghe email him for any kinds of help is very capable and reliable for help ajeghespelltemple@gmail.com or WhatsApp him +2349069171173
    His Blog> https://ajeghespelltemple.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete