1. There_She_Goes
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    There_She_Goes Member

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    1+1=2 -structure

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by There_She_Goes, May 22, 2012.

    Hello!
    So, the structure of my story (that I haven't started writing yet, though) is kind of "1+1=2". That is; first, I tell the story of one mc then in the other part the story of the other one. The third part is about how they meet and how their stories are woven together.
    I find this structure a bit challenging. It's probably easy to mess it up and make it stiff and ungraceful... :D I've read only one book with this structure (A Thousand Splendid Suns). It was excellent, but there was a clear element - a connection - between the two women. That was marrying the same man. But in my story, it's just finding independence and stuff.

    But anyways, do you guys have any useful tips/warnings/suggestions/recommendations/(anything) for using this structure?
     
  2. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't see why sections 1 and 2 wouldn't work. Make the POV change clear and at a logical moment in the narrative. I'm not sure about the 3rd section--why is how they met saved until last? Surely that should be the 1st section, otherwise you are going to be flashbacking and repeating stuff. Also, how their stories interweave should be evident as the sections unfold. It shouldn't need a final section pointing out things to the reader. Why is the reader supposed to be left in mystery as to this until the final 3rd of the book?
     
  3. There_She_Goes
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    There_She_Goes Member

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    That's a good point... But it still feels stiff...

    Section 1:

    How they meet and learn to work together.

    Section 2:

    How mc1 grew up

    Section 3:

    How mc2 grew up

    But isn't that a bit... too... bulky?
     
  4. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I've read books like you are describing. At first there was no clear connection between the two stories (just one chapter about one person and then the next chapter about another person), then the stories started to merge and as a reader I kept wondering how they were actually going to meet. Then of course the stories combined into one. I love the set up.

    My only bit of advice is to allow the reader to see a connection between the two stories. Perhaps the connections is nothing more than the story of two different people happens in a similar way or have similar things happen to them but then the connection has to grow from there until they grow together.
     
  5. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Where does the main conflict of your story occurs? Most likely in the third section. In such a case section 1 and section 2 become back stories and therefore they should be short. I haven't read the example book but it makes sense to use separate sections for the two characters; total strangers (signify by the separate sections) cheated by the same man. In a way the structure of the book represents the story itself. Do you have such a good reason for following the same structure? Will not one chapter each on the two characters sufficient (of course I am assuming at least 3/4 chapters on each characters when you say sections) if it is only about their childhood background? Yes, I am assuming a lot about your story here, but these things are worth considering. Good luck.


    Edit: Didn't read Amy's comment earlier. I agree about the connection bit.
     
  6. indy5live
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    indy5live Active Member

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    Dan Brown is pretty good at alternating chapter's between the hero and the villain and slowing having their shared conflict mesh together into a thrilling ending. I wouldn't divide the story up so drastically where you have the first third of the novel about character A and then make the reader start a whole new story in the middle third about character B, and expect them to stay committed to the story to the final charter where something finally starts happening. Not sure what the official technique is called but I call it Parallel writing, where Chapter 1 is happening at the same time as Chapter 2, Chapter 3 is happening at the same time as Chapter 4. On and on until eventually they become one streamlining story.
     
  7. There_She_Goes
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    There_She_Goes Member

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    You're all coming up with such good points - things that haven't even crossed my mind ... :D.
    So, the connection in my story is that both A and B (the main characters) are growing independent, but they're doing it in very different ways. But both of them long for affection and love from their families. So that's what they're able to offer each other. In a way the structure indy5live represented feels natural and beneficial to my story. Of course I knew it was a possibility, but I had never really thought about using it. It's funny 'cause I've had a hard time trying to make the two main character's sudden relationship credible to the reader. They seemed so distant and I've even had to ask people "how to make to main characters fall in love?" :D
    Ok, now I'm already having quite a personal brainstorming session here, but I hope you get the idea. So, if you kind of interlace the two stories, they become one and then the upcoming encounter and even falling in love seem quite natural and perhaps obvious... Heureka ... :D
     
  8. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    A good example of a story like that is the latter two books of the Abhorsen trilogy (which are basically one story that got too long for one book). Lirael alternates between the two main characters - Lirael is a girl living among the Clayr (who can see the future) and angsting about why she can't see the future like the other girls her age can; while Prince Sameth is son of the Abhorsen (good-guy necromancer who fights undead) and in training to be the next Abhorsen, but he's very unsuited to it and would much rather build stuff. In the next book, they meet up, and it turns out that Lirael is actually the next Abhorsen and Prince Sameth is meant to make an epically magical sword to defeat the big bad.
     
  9. There_She_Goes
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    There_She_Goes Member

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    Sounds very epic indeed :)! But is it that nothing really happens in those books where they tell the background stories of the two main characters? Do they just tell what their problems are and then solve them in the third part?
     
  10. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    No, actually, quite a lot happens.

    With Lirael, the story opens when she's 14, and since most Clayr get their seer powers around 10 years old, she's just starting to worry about her powers never coming in. She ends up contemplating suicide, but gets interrupted. Then she becomes a librarian in the Clayr's very elaborate and often dangerous library, unintentionally summons a powerful mystical ally, and evolves into someone who, though she still wishes she could be a regular Clayr, has a fairly important and secretive role in managing the various sealed evils in the library.

    With Prince Sameth, he gets attacked and wounded by an evil necromancer at the start of the book. He spends awhile healing, and whgen he first starts his serious study towards being an Abhorsen, it seems like his struggles are more due to the fallout of the attack. Specifically, he's supposed to be studying this mystical book that only allows Abhorsens to read it, and he acts terrified of the book and avoids it as much as possible. (It is a pretty creepy book, because it bleeds and does other things that books shouldn't do.) Meanwhile, his older sister, who is heir to the throne (their mother is the Abhorsen and their father is the King) keeps pushing him into courtly duties, while he keeps trying to dodge these so he can escape to his workshop.

    Lirael gets sent out when the Clayr forsee her averting a looming catastrophe (a sealed evil in a can is being released by the necromancer who attacked Sam), while Prince Sameth decides to run away from home.
     
  11. There_She_Goes
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    There_She_Goes Member

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    Makes sense, cause the main action takes place in the third part :). But did you ever get tired of reading the first two parts? I mean, did it ever feel... em... aimless? Cause I'm afraid my readers would be bored to death reading how my characters grew up little by little.... :(
     
  12. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    I actually preferred the first two parts to the third. I'm not as much of a fan of epic adventure as I am of character development. Not that I didn't like the third part, but I really liked the first parts, especially Lirael's story.
     
  13. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    It's really 3 ACT structure isn't it.

    It's all doable.

    I think you need to go out there and look at more complex structures to see how they work and then reduce them.

    Maybe even take (A Thousand Splendid Suns) as a template and make it your own story - with its own characters and worlds.
     

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