Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Caution - Multiple Storylines Can Present Hazardous Road Conditions

I have made some changes to this since it first went live this AM. The idea is still the same though.

Let me first begin by stating that stories with multiple storylines are not a problem. In fact, if an author does this correctly, then those different plot lines really do add a great deal of depth to a story. Unfortunately, if this is done incorrectly, you end up with stories that become confusing and often very disjointed.

As I read a story with multiple storylines, I try to think about the diagram below. Essentially we have a single storyline running through the book. This is the central story arc represented by the black line.

Now, when the author adds in those additional storylines, we need to see a wave structure. In other words, the stories must constantly interact with the central story arc, but also, take the time to pass through the other storylines as well.

For many authors, however, the only connection between the multiple storylines is simply the location or the names of the characters. This is far from enough and creates that disjointed feeling.

If you think of Pride and Prejudice, the central storyline is Elizabeth. We add in Darcy who has to deal with her family and their pressure. We have the sisters interacting with the other members of the Darcy family as well as with each other in the family. We have the Vicar who now interacts with Elizabeth's family as well as her friend. Still, you notice that everything revolves around Elizabeth!

Play around with this in the next couple of days and see what you come up with.


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