If you like to write stories, then it’s almost certain that you’ve asked yourself whether or not you should add something into your story. Making that decision can be incredibly difficult. If you’re struggling with whether or not you should add something in, whether it be a character, a scene, or a situation, there is a list of five questions that can make your decision a little easier.
Question one: How will this affect the characters you already have? When you get a new idea, you have to think about how it’ll change the lives of your characters. How will each and every character react to this change? Will this change their world views, their way of life and/or their relationships? Before you add in this change, you should make sure you think about this one thoroughly. If you find that you either can’t think about how this would change the character’s life, if it changes things in a complicated way and/or it changes things in a way you don’t like, then it’s best to leave the change out.
A good example of something that affects the characters is the death of a family member. It can make the characters hate life, see it as pointless and cruel. It can turn a usually light and happy character into a bitter and mean one. They may run into altercations with other characters because of this, and it can easily set up a plot.
However, an example of an event that may not change the characters is them finding a dollar on the ground. It does not aid them financially as it is only a dollar, and it does not inspire any other outlooks into the world.
Question two: what is the importance it holds to the story? You have to ask yourself if it’s something that will make an impact, or if it’s just needless filler. Will this event have any significance to the story itself, or will it just be something you add in because you want to fill out more pages? If it’s just filler, it’s best to just drop it.
A turning point in a war that the story revolves around may be a good representation of importance. It could set up the end, like them finally being able to win the war. It could set up a sequel or character development. There are so many things that could make this have significance.
Someone petting a random dog then never interacting with the dog again is insignificant. There is no purpose to this. The character does not grow from this, and there are really no ways you can make this have value.
Question three: how will this make the readers feel? Sometimes you have to think about how the readers will feel. Will this make them happy or upset? Will it be so frustrating that they’ll lose interest? As much as writing is for you, if you’re making a story with the intent for other people to enjoy, you have to think about how your audience will perceive this change.
An addition that may make the readers happy is showing positive development in your character. If normally they’re a mean and rude person, them showing compassion could make the readers feel sympathetic and joy towards the character. They can finally find them likable and will be more inspired to read the story.
Though if you add in another scene that makes the character even worse and more bitter, the readers might feel frustration and a lack of interest. They may stop reading the story entirely because the main character just isn’t likable.
Question four: why are you adding this in? Think about why it’s so important to you to have this in the story. Will it portray an emotion to the readers? Will it change the mood? Will it be a turning point? Do you just want to add in a little flavor text? Will it develop the character? Think about why exactly you want to add it in. If you find that you don’t know, then often the readers can pick up on that. They’ll be able to tell that it doesn’t mean a lot to you or to the story.
A good reason to add something in is that you want to add more emotion to a scene, you want to make the readers feel something. You want to add more of an impactful effect and feel as if the only way to do that is by adding this in.
A bad reason to add something in is because you want to hit a certain word count. It’s never a good idea to add in filler text because often that upsets audiences and annoys them.
Question five: Can the story go on without this? All of the previous questions have been leading up to this big one. Really search your mind about whether or not this being in your story is really worth it. A good tell is if your story will be perfectly fine without it. If it is, then you probably shouldn’t add that segment in. It’s best not to ad din unnecessary things, and just stick to what the story needs.
All of the questions I asked and all of the examples I gave can all be used for this one question. It is probably the most important question to ask when adding something in, so even if you feel like ignoring all others please just keep this one in mind. An unnecessary addition can overwhelm and ruin the entire story.
At the end of the day, these questions can guide you but the only person who can make the final decision is you. If you’re still unsure after this, then try asking people who know your story what they think. Also, try asking yourself what you think. If it feels right to you, then go for it. If it feels wrong to you, then hold back. Hopefully, this gave you more of an insight on what to do, good luck!