Using the same story form to reach the desired word count for a novel

I have a problem here.

I have reached signpost four of a particular story and I’ve only been able to flesh out 22,000 words.

Can i continue/restart the same story form to by starting with the signpost one plot sequences at the end of the 22,000 words to draw out more words but maintain the same story form until i reach 90,000 words?

Let me know if this is a valid technique.

@mlucas and anyone else, I’d appreciate your response here.

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@samuelogeda I think if you start with Signpost 1 again you’ll just be retelling the same story so I don’t think that works.

Would it work to flesh out your existing material? From what I’ve read there are a number of possible ways to do this:

  1. If you’re not using the plot sequence report, you could do that (adding beats). If you do the full PSR, (4 beats per throughline per signpost) that should give you 64 scenes. Even if each scene is only 1,500 words, that’s more than enough.

  2. You could add more using the static story points (i.e. flesh out scenes with illustrations of Domain, Concern, Issue, etc.)

  3. You could add more story material in each act from the Signposts by coming up with more illustrations – so if OS Signpost 1 is Understanding and you have the Protagonist group struggling to puzzle something out, you could also have an Antagonist group that is creating a lot of Misunderstandings with their actions.

I would like to hear what others say though!


You could write the last chapter and/or scenes of the story, as you want it to be. Just relax and have fun. That might show some possibilities.


All storyforms work for any length, so the fault isn’t really the storyform, or even your conception of it. The problem is two conflicting ideas: The Expectation that stories should be X words long. And your Determination that the story is going to end short of that. So you’ve got two options:

  1. Say to heck with expectations of how long a story should be, and publish an awesome* 20,000-word novella. Let it be exactly how you’ve made it, and love it for what it is.
  2. Restart your story and/or take your current draft and fluff it a bit. …A lot. (Sorry, I gotta snark. Did you outline your story ahead of time? If each scene is ~2000 words, when did you realize you only had 11 scenes in you as opposed to 45?) I’ve made a post about fluffing stories longer previously, so I’ll summarize while I look for it: sidetracks, B plots, additional Requirements, wider Limit. If you’re gonna do this, I recommend starting from scratch. I think readers will know if you haphazardly staple a 70,000 word B plot to your main story.**

Also, you could do both! Do it “The Fireman” style, where you write it as a novella first, then expand it out to full “Fahrenheit 451” length.

*The word I really wanted to use was “kickass,” but since I don’t swear, the only way I could say it was apophatically, like this. :wink:

** …Actually, considering you’re literally quadrupling the length, you could theoretically do something like “Four characters in vastly different circumstances have parallel journeys,” and possibly make it work. Set it in the same world, have them all converge in book 2… I’m loving this idea more and more already!


@Lakis is right - if you circle back to Signpost 1 you’re doing the equivalent of telling someone something you already told them–covering ground already well tread.

If you want to draw it out to 90k you need to start breaking down the beats into smaller chunks - using the Plot Sequence Report - and build out your story to make it more detailed in nature.


@samuelogeda I don’t have a lot to add to the excellent responses above.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with having written a novella! :slight_smile:

One question though, now that you’ve reached Signpost 4 doesn’t the story feel like it’s coming to an end? It should feel “right” to resolve things soon, like things are approaching a climax etc. You might also want to check if you can describe your Story Limit as an actual thing in the story (like getting closer to something or running out of something bringing on the climax).


Thanks for all the excellent responses. I’m thinking of adding different story forms along the same story form featuring the same characters dealing with different problems.

@Lakis I wanted to ask, if I can explore character motivations, methodologies, evaluations, and purposes - up to 64 of them within a signpost for a particular perspective to draw out more words?

22K is suspiciously close to one-quarter of 90K.

Is it possible that you have written the first quarter of a different storyform?


Depending on how many OST characters there are in your story, you could easily explore a scene (4 events) with each OST character and your MC. This would create additional relationships. This is probably more likely if your OST characters have different paths in the OST (with the same theme).

The novel that I am currently listening to does this.

In this case, the MC is in a school where people train their magic talents. If they pass the school, they are allowed to become climbers which allows them to climb magic towers in search of more power (each character has their own motivations for wanting this). This is the OS concern that all of them have in common. More power.

Many of the characters in question work together on a team in the school (some are out of the school, but they all seek more power). There are easily 8 OS characters (I believe).

The MC often develops his RS stories with the other characters in question as he has a repulsion or aversion to physical and emotional intimacy. This is achieved through the OST, MCT, and RST stories.

An example of this is when another student asks him for help in a practical exam (for a class that he is not in) when her normal partner drops out. She asks the MC, because she is comfortable with him because of their other OST interactions.

Each character has the potential to have additional scenes that haven’t been explored, but it just requires one of them to say, “Hey, MC, I need your help.” I think this gives the MC a chance to flesh out RS stories, and it likely will fit into the OS.

Hope that helps.

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My understanding is yes. Armando has a few chapters on how to do this in Dramatica for Screenwriters.

Don’t forget you can do anything you want as long as it tells a good story! The structure is in support of the story, not the other way around.


@MWollaeger I’ve written up to signpost four for the current story form.

Here’s an idea I have, the os concern for the story form is becoming, I’m thinking of maintaining the same mc and plot dynamics but start three other story forms that have another psychology concern, being, conceiving, and conceptualizing till I get 90,000 words.