Is Your Story Long Enough?

Is your story long enough?

The response to this question feels very obvious. The right question isn’t “is my story long enough?” but “is my story the length it needs to be?” Because we have more of an understanding, with the internet and being able to make pages, chapters, books, videos, songs, audiobooks, etc. the exact length we need them to, that we don’t have to pad length for the heck of it- we can have the first chapter be 20 pages, the second 30, the third 10, and so on- whatever’s best for telling the story. The first video can be 5 minutes, the next 7 minutes, the next 20 minutes- we don’t have to follow a template like for newspaper blocks or television slots.

But let’s step back and reconsider the question…

The book, the movie, the novel, the TV series, the audiobook, is not the story. They are ways to tell the story.

The story is the same when it is in your head, moves out into a story outline, and becomes the first draft (yes, I know usually the story is adjusted in those stages, but bear with me for the concept here). Your imagination, your story outline, your first drafts are just forms the story takes- story forms.

You can recall a story in your imagination after experiencing it in book, movie, whatever form- and it’s the same story, it’s just in another form- your imagination- rather than it’s original form as a book, movie, whatever form. The story is the soul, the form the body.

So the question isn’t whether the story form is long enough- whether that 20-minute TV episode should have been 45 minutes, or whether that 10-page chapter should have been 30 pages- the question is whether or not your story itself is long enough.

Does your story cover the length of time that it needs to?

Of course, the reasonable question then is long enough for what?

The purpose for which you wrote the story.

Is your purpose to express yourself? Well, is the story long enough for you to express yourself?

Is your purpose to teach a moral? Well, is the story long enough to teach that moral effectively?

Is your purpose to share a new world? Well, is the story long enough to get in-depth and really learn about that story’s world?

Don’t misunderstand- I’m not suggesting that you give scenes to your editor that ought to have been cut. I’m not suggesting that you have meaningless dialogue or pad your story with empty words. I’m talking about adding meaningful pieces to the overall story so that your goal for the story is reached.

Don’t add in meaningless content- but add in meaningful content if it helps your story accomplish its purpose.

No story is too long or too short. But many stories are told too slowly or quickly; and sometimes stories are too short or long to accomplish their purposes as effectively. Story length should be adjusted based on the needs to accomplish the story’s purpose.

Is your story the length it needs to be?

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