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I gave my latest book to my favorite beta readers, and they liked it except for the very ending, i.e. the last 20 pages, which they thought fell short and a bit rushed. I therefore decided to try and lengthen it.

One option would have been just be to lengthen the ending by sustaining a longer climax, and a longer epilogue perhaps. I went for the second option, that was to insert a new substantial amount of plot to the manuscript. After three weeks, I am still stuck at the story planning phase.

The original plot was along the lines of the "overcoming the monster" archetype:

  1. Learn about the monster, get a glimpse of it.
  2. MC prepares to fend off the monster.
  3. The monster power is revealed and looks like the MC is no match for it.
  4. Epic climatic confrontation, the peak is when the MC is about to lose everything
  5. MC manages to slay the monster.

My plan was to spare the monster and hook another archetypal plot to the 5th step. I have three concerns:

  1. Unless I do major editing throughout the entire book, the result may look like a disconnected blob. A bit like glueing two books with the same characters by the cover.

  2. There may be backlash in going through a very strong climatic point, only to discover that it is not over. It feels that I would owe the reader an even stronger climax near the end.

  3. I could insert the foreshadowing of an even greater one, and resolve it as a new fifth step of a larger "kill the monster" plot. As I sketched this on paper, it sounded like a boring repetition and that is why I focused on trying to glue a different archetype.

The question is: how to avoid the obvious pitfalls when trying to seamlessly glue an archetypal plot onto the back of an existing story?

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Think about why you're doing this.

Your readers liked everything about your story except they wanted more of the ending. So instead you're giving them more of everything except the ending?

I think your attempt is failing because you're trying to do something that isn't true to the book. The way you describe it, it's as if some clueless editor is forcing you to do this and you're trying to make the best of it.

If you really do want to rework your book, then start with the frame and make it fresh. Don't try to tack on one plot structure to another. In other words, step way way back. You can't add castle towers to your skyscraper. You need to take it down, build a castle, then build it back up again.

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    +1 I have a hard time to admit it to myself, but I am getting to agree with you – NofP May 16 at 20:51
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    This. Also you can't pull a 180° degree turn seamlessy, not without serious editing in the whole book. – Liquid May 17 at 16:19
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The ending being rushed won't be fixed by having a longer overall manuscript.

I've made the mistake of trying a "different than expected ending" once, in a book I dearly loved writing, and I got a scathing bit of feedback from an honest reader that opened my eyes to the mistake I'd made. I'm not one to let things go easily, so I remembered the lesson: Give the readers what the readers want, not what I want.

A similar lesson is in the offing for you. The input of the readers is to provide a more meaty climax. It would serve you well to take that input, if it was unanimous. They didn't say the story felt rushed, only the ending. So take option 1 instead, and float it back out to them.

I think you'll find it much easier than trying to retool your entire story from start to finish.

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