I have a word count goal for my fantasy novel (climate fiction/fantasy) of 100 - 120,000 words. It doesn't need to fall in this range, but that is the typical length of books I read when I pick up a new author. So it's a metric, and I am not wedded to it, but if I come out at say 50,000 words or 400,000 words then I am not writing the sort of thing I am trying to write.
My first draft was 110,000 words. The story arc was what I wanted, and the characters developed well enough. I thought through the edit process I might lose 10% and end at 100,000 words, fair enough. But, I'm losing closer to 25%. I'm now to Chapter 7 (of 21 chapters) and have lost over 6000 words already. At this rate the manuscript will be just over 90,000 words when I am done, and that is just the first edit. I expect I will tighten it up a second and third time.
I don't want to add words for the sake of words, obviously. What I'd like, though is to add depth to the characters and story. It looks like I will have room to do that.
My question: What sorts of elements can add depth to a story or to characters? (and incidentally lengthen it.)
If a character feels weak, for example, would more internal dialogue, or more external dialogue, or more memories, or perhaps a new minor character to throw him into relief... Are these all equal options? Since it is fantasy, would there be devices that would be appreciated by the reader (history of the world, told through interchanges between the wise elder and the young hero, for example?)
What are the tools (and tricks) that advanced writers use to deepen their stories? I know I am flailing a bit here. I bolded the question that you can focus on, if you want to ignore the surrounding fluff.
Edit: Since asking this question, I've found The Emotional Craft of Fiction to be a great resource for adding depth (and therefore length) to the manuscript.I believe that working through this book with my manuscript in hand added at least 10% to the length, and much more to the emotional depth of the story.