1. Scrib
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    Scrib Active Member

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    Guidelines for writing multiple protagonist and multiple plot stories?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Scrib, Jul 17, 2015.

    For some time now (ever since reading Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin ), and wanting to write a novel myself (yes, it would be a first novel), I have been searching around for guidelines and tips on how to go about writing multiple MC and multiple plot stories. I haven't been able to find any. Every single book on writing I've come across is inevitably written on the premise that there is only one main character, and one main plot (with a scattering of subplots). Perhaps it's because it's the easiest way, but I know it's not the only way, and I would like to master it.

    Has anybody here got any pointers? And also which other novels do you know of that have more than one protagonist and plot? Does the novel 'work', and if not, where do you feel it falls flat?
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2015
  2. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the most obvious example of modern day writing is the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. He follows multiple characters, all with their own plot line, their own backstory, and their own level of involvement. Some characters cross paths, but others (like Daenarys Targaryen) stay relatively far away and unrelated to the other characters.

    I unfortunately don't have any advice to give regarding how to write it. But if you haven't read the series, I think that would be a good place to start for ideas.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    My biggest issue with A Song of Ice and Fire is that Martin seems to be overwhelmed to the point where it's getting hard for him to wrap up the series. So my advice would be to keep your project manageable. This is also good advice if you ever want to publish because publishers don't like taking on a series from an unknown writer. So your best bet is to write something that can stand on its own and is within the 80k-120k word range.
     
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  4. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm writing a story that I think has two protagonists when it was originally planned to have one (actually it has four but I have to finish the first book to show you the other two....). I can't tell you how well it's working, but I have derived some benefit from one thing - which is to decide who the "main protagonist" and use that as a guiding direction when the story get's jumbled. I have multiple protags and they drive different parts of the plot, and I have a feeling that there will be long stretches where the "main protag" isn't the one protagging the story. But there's still a guiding light - and that light is knowing whose story this ultimately is, and which of the divergent plots gets ranked #1. That way, when I get off track and need to steer back, I know which lane to get back into.
     
  5. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    On the series point - that's very true - the first novel should stand on it's own EVEN IF YOU'RE PLANNING IT AS THE FIRST INSTALLMENT OF SOMETHING BIGGER. That way you have something a publisher can take on it's own without risk - now obviously if you know they're really just looking at the first act of something much bigger, you can still program in stuff that you're going to need later - but we should feel satisfied at the end of the first book if we read it alone.
     
  6. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    The method is the same for single MC/plot and multiple MC/plot.

    For example, with multiples you run the arc side by side.
     
  7. Scrib
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    Scrib Active Member

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    Thank you to all who have responded so far, I'm glad I've renewed my membership of this forum, and decided to get a little more involved this time . My apologies for not having responded sooner.

    You've gone and given me an excuse to buy yet more books! I don't know yet if I'll end up getting the whole series, I'll decide once I'm done with books 1 and 2. I'm familiar with the TV series, but I'm sure I'm in for plenty of surprises in the books.

    :bigsmile: I'm hoping to keep it managable in size, and a multi-volume series is the last thing I have in mind, especially at this stage in my writing development.

    It sounds like you're in the middle of a real workout there Commandante Lemming! Thanks for the reminder of keeping focused. My plan is to have one main protagonist per main plot. I'm undecided at the moment over how much, if any, converging there's going to be. This will be one of many things I find out as I go along I think.

    I'm wondering now why I didn't think of this myself. Possibly because it seems so simple, thank you!

    Has anybody else read a multi-plot/multi-protagonist novel? Or have experience writing one?
     
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