1. MegTheLedge
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    MegTheLedge Member

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    How many plotlines is too many?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by MegTheLedge, Jan 28, 2012.

    I am working on a project that follows the lives of two female superheroes, Punkster and Cap'n Babester. What I wanted to do for my plotline was have one plot following Punkster as her human self, one following Cap'n as her human self, and a third following both of them as superheroes.

    My question is, is three plotlines too many plotlines? I've read books that have two with no confusion whatsoever, but can the same thing be achieved with three?
     
  2. Backbiter
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    Backbiter Contributing Member

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    It all depends on how you organize it, really, and what you yourself can handle. If you feel like it's getting to be too much, than maybe fewer plot lines would be better.

    In one of my large projects, the plot had several different stories it was following, some more prominent than others, but all vital to the main conflict. Some people may find it easier to control that chaos than others; again, it's really all about what you feel comfortable with. If you feel like three is the way to go, then don't hesitate to try it out.

    I hope this helped!
     
  3. MegTheLedge
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    MegTheLedge Member

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    Most definitely! Thank you.
     
  4. N.F. David
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    N.F. David New Member

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    I prefer what more than a few references teach: One plot + subplots - any subplot that hinders or is unnecessary to the main plot should be tossed. I think anything that halts any action or character development is pointless. Sometimes I wonder if outlining hurts or helps: either luring you into constructing a maze of paths or forcing you to keep it as linear as 1 + 2 + 3 ... The subs, to me, are directly attached to any relevant character, so I just let them handle it.
     
  5. Show
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    You have too many plotlines when you and/or your readers can't keep up.
     
  6. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    Well, it depends on how deep the plotlines are. I know I've read books where the whole thing is told in 3rd person... and it might be a mystery/suspense book and they'll have the main crime with the main characters, and within that plot they'll have the subplot where the two main characters (both private detectives) are arguing about something and there is somewhat of a rift between them that is in play throughout the story. Meanwhile, another supporting character (some chick that works with the police) is on a side case that she thinks is murder but everyone else thinks is suicide. The author of the story could jump back and forth between both perspectives until eventually they tie together at some point in the story (they have to, otherwise it's two separate stories).
     
  7. picklzzz
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    picklzzz Senior Member

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    It's interesting how you want to develop the characters as their superheroes vs. human selves. Perhaps that will be four plots instead of three if there are two characters that are both human and superheroes. If you do three, then the third (when they're superheroes) suggests they're always together when they are? That may be more confusing. Now, a plot line doesn't have to be mutually exclusive of all others. So, you can blend them. Just make it clear who you're talking about and whose point of view is being used for each. Also, be wary of too many. I have given up on a book right now that I'm reading because there are so many characters and subplots, I'm not even sure after several chapters who the MC's are and what the main plots are. I have to keep going back to read when they switch so frequently. This - imo - is my idea of a bad story, even if I love the author. And this author I'm reading (ok, Stephen King) tends to do this a lot. Some don't mind, but I feel I'm missing something important if I am confusing everyone. Another way to have the reader keep things straight if you're going for three or four plots (to me, they're all equivalent plots and not subplots in how you've presented it) is to have clear distinction between names and characterization. That way, it'll be obvious who is being described and the author will be able to quickly keep it all straight.

    I read that once in a book - if you have too many characters with similar names, the reader will either think it's the same person or just view it as the same person because they've forgotten who is who.

    I think your story will be interesting as long as the plots each don't get so involved that each scene takes so long that you forget about the other plots. Some authors do this - switch to another person or plot - and by the time they return to the original one, I've forgotten what even happened.

    Good luck!
     
  8. MegTheLedge
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    MegTheLedge Member

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    I suppose it is four plots. :p
    Plus the one, making five. Then again, they're ALWAYS together, so three again? I don't know.
    Point being, I have my plots written down in a way that they all kind of intertwine, so it seems like one big plot.
    I think I'm still going to count it as three, since their superpowers are always in effect. They're more like personality traits to the extreme rather than superpowers, as Punkster puts it. :)
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no one can answer that question, since 'too many' or 'just enough' depends only on the skill of the writer, not on the idea for a story...

    a good writer can juggle several plotlines successfully and a poor writer could botch a single one... it'll depend on what quality of writer you are and nothing else...
     
  10. picklzzz
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    picklzzz Senior Member

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    I think if in your mind you're considering it three instead of four, then it limits the characters because they always have to be together. You could consider it one plot, but they can go their different ways within the same plot. I guess it's arbitrary at this point, but I think the story sounds really cool, for what it's worth! The names you gave though make the characters already seem hip but cutesy and trendy, and I'm not sure if that's what you're going for. Maybe don't name them yet until you decide on their personalities? Just a thought.
     
  11. MegTheLedge
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    MegTheLedge Member

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    A lot of their development is within their thoughts anyways, so even if they're with each other, they're developing separately. Lex (Punkster) actually comes up with their names. Lex (Cap'n Babester) is bubbly and childlike, so the trendy, cutesy name fits her. The reason that Lex calls her "Cap'n" is because Lex feels useless unless she's in action, whereas Eisley is always acting like a superhero. Thus, Eisley deserves the more superhero-esque name. Lex called herself Punkster based on her music taste and overall style.

    Lex actually spends the first few chapters of the book in a heavily depressed state, but is pulled out of it when she finally gets an assignment: to defeat the zombie colony that has taken root in their beloved Toronto. Lex really begins to shine when she gets to be a superhero.
     
  12. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I'm giving the exact same answer as I did to the "what's the right amount of characters" thread.

    There's no cut and dry one-size-fits-all answer. Anyone who says there is is full of shit.

    It's about how good you are as a writer about tying them together, making them coherent, keeping up with them etc. For some writers, this number is 1 or 2, and others can pull off 10.
     

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