1. Tomlan
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    Tomlan Member

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    How to execute a plot-jump

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Tomlan, Jul 4, 2016.

    In brief, the first four chapters of my novel are all in one place following the same characters, however, I have one more character that I want to be a main part of it and wish to follow her with her own chapters simultaneously, but in another part of my world. My question is, how early on should I make this plot-jump. From the perspective of a reader, would it be better if I waited until the first characters are introduced and somewhat established, or do I do it really early to establish her early also?

    This is difficult to gauge as the writer as I already know the characters and they are established in my mind, so if I jumped in early with her it would feel natural because I already know her before writing.

    Thank you,
    Tom
     
  2. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can divide each chapter into sections, one section per POV character, or you can do one POV per chapter. I'm sure you could also do it on a larger scale, but I've never tried it.

    Without knowing anything more about your story, I don't know which to recommend, so I'll give you some basic criteria and hopefully you'll be able to figure it out.

    If you're following simultaneous action, it's likely better to break each chapter into sections. Then if you 'back up a bit' for each POV and recover the same or an overlapping time span, it won't seem so jarring for the reader.

    At the end of each POV section, raise a question for that POV character or the situation they're in. That way you keep the reader thinking about that character while you go off to talk about other characters. And, of course, you then do the same thing with the next POV character, kind of leapfrogging reader attention through the entire story.

    You can build tension by showing in one chapter section (or one chapter) how the antagonist is plotting against the protagonist which, of course, the protagonist doesn't know until the plot hits him in the face in the next (or a subsequent) chapter section (or chapter). This is kind of like in a horror movie when the unsuspecting character goes into the basement and you're yelling at the screen: Don't go down there! ’cause you know that's where monsters live.



    Hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2016
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  3. Tomlan
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    Yes thank you, that does help. I like the idea of leap-frogging around the action to build suspense. At the moment I have each chapter as having only one POV, with each chapter averaging around 3000 words. However for more intense scenes I think I may employ a bit of your suggestion to make it move faster and get round all the characters reactions. Also the suggestion of a question at the end is a good one, it's something I have been doing at the end of most my chapters but never actually thought about it!

    As for more what my book is about, it's a drama novel, loosely based in a medieval setting (It is a fictional world). I have four characters which I am following (My original draft had only 1, but I found I enjoyed writing about the other three so much and it let more of the story get explored so I wrote POVs from all of them).
    Already the characters are starting to go their own way (with 1 starting in a completely different place anyway) so having the POVs of all of them really broadens what I can write about.

    I do intend on two of the characters being on opposite sides of a war at one point so the building of suspense by having both their POVs at once will be vital there.
     
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  4. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Which goes to show we often know more than we think we do. ;)

    Another thing you might want to keep in mind is, when switching from POV to POV, always do it in the same order (character A, then character B, then character C, etc.) because this will also help orient your reader.

    But, you probably already know that, too. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
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  5. Tomlan
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    Aha, you overestimate my knowledge there, a lucky coincidence perhaps! ;)

    As for the order, so far I have been doing that, I never thought of it for reader orientation, more for my own in honesty, but that is an advantage! I have tried not to make any rules though as to when to write about each character, whilst it's been fairly linear at the moment, I don't want to feel restricted. For if I think the story needs to go Character A to C to B to A to D, then so long as it flows well that's probably where I will go.
    But I do appreciate the advice, it is good being on these forums because having other writers perspectives can give you a whole other look on everything you're doing and it makes you so much the better for it.
     
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