Fleshing Out A Thin Narrative #amwriting

Yesterday, I posted a bit from one of my Lonnie and Tiny stories. I read it to my critique group, and they made some little suggestions, so I guess it was good enough. But “good enough” isn’t good enough. The story felt thin to me.

So I thought about it.

Here’s how the story went:

  • A throwaway incident, included only to justify a little exposition.
  • A conflict expressed between Lonnie and Character B, foreshadowing the climactic incident.
  • Stuff goes on.
  • Suspicious quietness of the children.
  • Character B pranks Lonnie.

Amusing story. But thin. Practically anorexic.

Plus: I FORGOT ABOUT THE DOGS! Tiny alone has three dogs; there are probably others in the neighborhood.

Now the story goes:

  • An incident that seems throwaway, included only to justify a little exposition.
  • A conflict expressed between Lonnie and Character B, foreshadowing the climactic incident
  • An encounter between Lonnie and B, involving the previously apparently throwaway incident, which encounter motivates the prank.
  • Stuff goes on, dogs locked up to keep them and the crowds on the street safe from each other. Dogs are making noise.
  • Kids and dogs are quiet, probably amusing one another. BUT THEN
  • B pranks Lonnie.

This all added about 500 words to the story, and gave it some body. It’s still a thin little story, but it’s no longer a sketch. I’m happy with it now.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Do you have a scene that feels a little thin? What are you leaving out? What could you fold into it that would connect to other parts of the narrative or even other elements of the same scene?




I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Fleshing Out A Thin Narrative #amwriting

  1. Dan Antion

    September 4, 2017 at 8:11am

    A couple of beers and a plate of ribs will fatten up that story.

    Oh wait, that’s my story ?

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Jane

    September 4, 2017 at 1:17pm

    Like thinning hair, being able to detect a thinning story may be a skill not so easily cultivated.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  3. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    September 4, 2017 at 3:42pm

    Just did that very thing – I put a tiny bit up on my post. It just wasn’t up to snuff – and my snuff detector kept complaining.

    But you can’t just pad – what you add has to seem inevitable.

    Layers. Like for cold weather: put on more layers.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      September 4, 2017 at 5:22pm

      No, padding is bs. But what do you do when you think you need to cut something and your readers beg for it to stay? When, to them, it isn’t padding, even if you feel like it is?

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

        September 4, 2017 at 5:41pm

        Add a few words – turn padding into a necessary layer? It’s only padding if it’s not relevant and required for the story, IMHO.

        Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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