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February 1st, 2006, 01:11 PM
So how many plotlines do you typically juggle in your stories. IN my current WIP, which is the farthest in a story I've gotten, I'm working with 1 plotline and about 5 major characters. It all takes place in a single town, and things are pretty cut and dry. But the majority of books I read involve multiple plotlines, and they really fill out a book. They also add complexity. What I don't like is when there's too much stuff going on..mostly because I can't sort it out in my pea brain. For example, I like Steven Erickson (sp) a lot, but his books are packed full of plotlines. I often have to check in previous chapters to verify who the character is, and what he/she was last doing. George RR Martin is the same. That said, they are both great writers.

So- any thoughts? How much is too much? How little is not enough? I'm not looking for a 'writing rule' here, just preferences.

February 1st, 2006, 01:58 PM
Like you, I don't like multiple plot lines so much.

I want one main character as a focal point for my emotions. At most, two.

I write that way too, but maybe it's because I'm simply too chaotic to interweave different threads. :)

February 1st, 2006, 07:14 PM
I have enough trouble carrying a single plot line through to its conclusion. I have no problems with multiples. I quite enjoy reading them. But lately, even in my larger scale projects I tend to focus on a single plot line.

As an exercise, I think it would be interesting to write two completely seperate stories that contain a single common element, and then find a way to merge the two.

February 1st, 2006, 07:31 PM
I have one master plot line and it's my story. However, my characters and even chapters may have their own sub-plots that can be part of the master plot or stand on their own. The hard part is getting the sub-plots resolved before the story ends.

February 1st, 2006, 11:23 PM
So, I was almost done replying here and I closed the window accidentally. I'll try again.

This is mainly what I've done concerning plots:

1 major plot for the entire story (two books probably, maybe three).
1 major plot for each book.
1 major plot for each main character (inner dilema typically, which decides the fate of their outter dilemas).
4 main characters.
Subplots for secondary characters (4 of those), but these are usually directly related to their relationships with the main characters ie: love, betrayal, tutoring, friendship, and bananas.

What is too much?
For me, I had too many subplots for secondary characters who become more important later on. Therefore (truly only for size constrains), I decided to stall their subplots until close to the "later on" in the next book, instead creating a sense of mystery about their origins and intentions for a big "surprise!".

But, as I think someone already said, however many relevant plots you can write in without making the story too drawn out, is enough.:)



February 2nd, 2006, 01:27 AM
a single,well planned and well managed plotline is enough in my opinion,at the most two bt i also dont feel good with multiple ones.

February 2nd, 2006, 01:47 AM
Generally, one plot per main character. One plot for the group, whatever "group" happens to mean.

And...um...do you really need to resolve everything before the story ends? Give your readers some credit, and maybe a little something to chew on.


Michael B
February 2nd, 2006, 01:26 PM
And...um...do you really need to resolve everything before the story ends? Give your readers some credit, and maybe a little something to chew on.
In my opinion you don't have to resolve everything. Some of the best stories leave you something to chew on and ask "What happened next?"

However everything should be left tidy.

February 2nd, 2006, 03:07 PM
Heh, see, I think exactly the opposite. I personally believe that any plotlines you start, you need to finish.

However, I don't think that everything has to be left tidy. Resolving a conflict doesn't necessarily mean it leaves everybody happily ever after, but it does mean bringing that plot to a close.

Not resolving a plot line, and instead, just ending the book isn't going to give your readers something to chew on; it's probably going to make them feel cheated, because essentially that's what you've done to them. You've started to get them to care about something, some sort of conflict, and then just left them hanging, that's not good. It's a little different if it's a minor sub-plot being used as foreshadowing for something bigger in a sequel, but if we're talking about a standalone novel (or any kind of story), then that's really not fair to your readers.

That said, resolving all plotlines doesn't mean that you have to wrap up the whole story in a little bow, or leave no questions unanswered, or whatever. You can do all that. Just because the hero saves the girl doesn't mean he has to wind up with the girl, and you can leave the fate of their relationship (which wasn't a plot line, just one element of the story) open. Or whatever you want. You can leave people's lives in shambles after resolving the conflict, and the reader might never know what would happen to him after that. If the hero had to break a thousand laws to save his wife and kids, if the focus was him saving them, you don't have to let him live happily ever after, with the cops just letting him go free, and all that crap. But you've still left the plot resolved, which is the important thing.

Andrew J
February 2nd, 2006, 05:18 PM
I've often wondered what style of writing I do, but I've just recently figured out that I'm a Baroque writer: my novels have never had quite a single plot line, and if they do they are complicated, or filled with many other things and intermixing ideas. Generally, I love this complicated sense in reading a novel, as it feels something is going on beyond "well, this is just a book, in the end" and doesn't feel so closed. That's one thing that bothered me about John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men": it's as if no real world exists outside of that bunker/small area of the surrounding farm. We just hear some vague references to the town. Too bad, as he had ample area to expand it some, even use a prologue of sorts to show Lenny and George coming through there, or one of the times it mentions George visiting the place with the boys.

Unfortunately, this style of writing often ends in what I dub the "Stephenson Closure" where everything just stops, or there's a couple of pages after the finale, because I really want to finish it and move on. I've gotten better with that, though, and hope to avoid it altogether in my current novel, plus edit the endings for my others.