History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

When the Story is Too Big

We recently watched Bill and Ted Face the Music, as Jeremy and I are both huge fans of the original Bill and Ted movies. And while we enjoyed the most recent entry into this franchise, we both agreed that it paled in comparison to the previous movies. The biggest problem that we identified was that the movie tries to cram in too many things, which winds up making nothing really stand out in the way that individual pieces stood out in the original movies. My thought was that this movie could very easily have been two separate movies.

How does this apply to writing advice? Well, sometimes, you have so many awesome ideas that you try to cram all of them into one story or novel. But by cramming in too much, you’re forced to cut corners on all of the awesome things, which then means that they don’t get enough room to be as awesome as they could. Sure, with a story or novel, you might not be bound by arbitrary limits on length in the same way that a movie is, but for most authors, there are common lengths of short stories and novels that are the goal. Going too much larger than the common lengths makes your piece a difficult sell.

So how do you remedy this? Unfortunately, the answer is often that you need to limit the amount of awesome stuff that you can put in your story in order to give it the room it needs to grow. Perhaps what you initially thought was one story turns out to be two separate stories (or novels). By splitting up a too big story, you can take each piece and let the awesome elements of each one shine. You may find that when the pieces are separated, one or the other is more appealing, and maybe that means that one of the pieces doesn’t get fully explored now. But you can save that piece for later and return to it when it seems appealing!


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