A writer’s first drafts are often a bit skimpy and a tad short. Don’t panic…it is only the first draft – the bare bones of your story. Now it is time to dress it up. The trick is how to add substance, making the scenes stronger and fleshing out a story – rather than just padding.

You can write several paragraphs, but if all you are addressing is a butterfly sitting on a fence and has nothing to do with your character or gives nothing to the plot then it’s useless fluff. On the flip-side, a single line or paragraph might eliminate padding – but it may also lack enough content to create the atmosphere needed for readers to visualize the scene. You need to find just the right balance.

If a story is padded it is packed with inconsequential detail making the story longer; not enhancing it in any way.

The key is in knowing how to flesh out a story by adding depth and texture, an emotional punch that bring people and places to life.


  • dialogue that meanders
  • too much description
  • character’s thoughts wandering
  • extra characters with no added value to roles
  • inconsequential problems
  • insufficient transitions
  • delayed ending
  • unnecessary explanations


If  your story is too short add a:

  1. plot twist
  2. character – a significant character that adds to the story.
  3. new dimension to your main character – reveal something that is not known

If your story is too bare boned:

  1. analyze the way you describe people, places and events
  2. are you too economical with words
  3. consider the way you describe certain words. For example, red of
  • embarrassment
  • sunset
  • fire
  • velvet curtains
  • fine wine
  • blood
  • stop sign

Substitute the word red with words like: burgundy, rose, crimson, scarlet, ruby, russet, vermilion, auburn, copper, cherry, cardinal, maroon.

Then consider the smell, sound, texture and taste. Give it life.

“Linda has published sixteen books. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on the challenges a writer faces, including marketing and promoting your work, how to build your online platform, how to get reviews and how to self-publish.”