Have you ever read a story that felt thin? Like there wasn’t enough character development or the world wasn’t quite believable, or you had unanswered questions about the minor characters? I have and they’re so disappointing. The story feels incomplete, unfulfilling, and flat.
Readers will pick up your story to be engaged in a new world with new characters experiences, something to draw them out of their actual life. The more details in the story, the more immersed and committed your reader will be. The more invested they’ll be in your characters, your plot, and your world.
But sometimes, if you’ve been only focusing on writing your main plot or your main characters, and are finding your story to lack a little substance, it can be hard to figure out what to add or how to add it. I’ve rounded up four different additions you can place into your story to inspire that investment you want from your readers.
I’ve talked about subplots before, but I can’t stress their importance enough. Not only will they add depth and diversity to your main plot, they’ll also illustrate your world and the context of the story’s events in that world even more.
By adding in subplots that either weave into your main plot or weave into characters and places important to your main character, you’re adding multiple dimensions to your story. These will allow your reader to see more of three things:
- more of your character and what’s important to them,
- more of your world and how your characters interact with their surroundings
- more of your minor characters and how they’re important in their own right.
You’ll find that subplots can become crucial to your reader’s enjoyment of your story. They’ll influence how your reader engages with characters, what facets of your world they become attached to, and why they tell other people to read your story.
Certain stories work best with a limited number of characters, but with most stories, you can add in characters with little worry. Additional characters, with their own personalities, appearances, and dialogue, can provide commentary on story events, advice to characters, strengthen the impact of events, and create that full world feeling.
By adding in additional characters, even if they only show up for one scene, you add in depth where they may not have been any before, and this depth will incite your readers to stay with your story. Plus, minor characters can often become fan favorites!
A word of caution here: it can be easy to pull in random characters to fulfill certain roles in your story, but refrain from being heavy handed with your additional characters. Make sure they each have a purpose for being in the scene, a personality that’s multidimensional, and the potential to be expanded to other parts of the story.
Flashbacks can provide your story with two things: context and clarity.
Flashbacks provide context by showing your reader story history. Whether it’s a painful memory or the reason your character is on their quest, flashbacks can clue your reader into information that will enrich their reading experience. They give readers the background to significant events. The provide the information your readers need to know why certain things are going on as they are. They’ll help endear your characters to your readers as they learn more about them, and help to create characters that have a bit more depth.
Flashbacks provide clarity by enlightening your reader on important details. Flashbacks can explain whys or hows and make certain themes or symbols within your story crystal clear. They can help aid your reader’s understanding of events, motivations, and influences as your characters walk through their story.
Sometimes, one POV can be limiting. If you’re only telling the story from one perspective, you can miss out on the chance to share all elements of the story from all sides. You can give the reader specific information that other characters don’t know, creating a bit of angst to keep your readers engaged and involved in the story. You can explore different locations in your world, different character’s motivations, how characters influence each other. Your story will automatically become more involved as you delve into multiple characters’ heads.
Additionally, different POVs can allow you explore both the good and evil sides of a plot, or flesh out different character’s relationships. You can invest more time in your subplots and how they weave together by letting your different characters all speak their minds.
However, here’s another word of caution: don’t allow for too many POVs to tell the story. Otherwise, your reader can become confused, bored, or frustrated, and leave your story without finishing it. Which is just heartbreaking.
By adding more detail, additional storylines, and different perspectives, your story will become richer and deeper, concluding in a story that will be beloved by your readers.
And who doesn’t want that?