1. kingzilla
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    kingzilla Senior Member

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    Plot outline for a non linear book

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by kingzilla, Jun 25, 2012.

    While taking some time from my second draft of my first novel, I want to embark on my dream book. It is big... really big. I mean, think A Song of Ice and Fire big. Well, maybe a little smaller, but it will have 5-6 POV's and multiple different things happening in my fictional world. All my POV's, by the middle of the book, are mostly separated and are doing their own thing. So every chapter will be a different POV. So my question is how should I approach the plotting of the book? I was thinking about outlining each POV as a individual story, because they are all main characters. What do you guys think?

    And I have outlined 70 potential Chapters...
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Do you have a principal plot? Or are you just threading multiple, loosely connected stories together in one book?

    Are the many POVs really necessary to tell the story well, or are you making this an attraction of its own (in other words, a gimmick)?

    Maybe you're just selling it poorly in your post, but it sounds like it lacks cohesion. Make sure you have one primary story to tell, and that all your scenes contribute materially to telling the=at story. Note that if you show many of the scenes repeatedly from several POVs, you will probably bore the reader through repetition.
     
  3. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    It sounds from your post you just have 5 separate stories in your story? So maybe it'd be better to do 5 books?
     
  4. Estrade
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    Estrade Member

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    Hm. This will probably sound negative but it's hard enough to keep a reader engaged with one MC, but with every MC you add, you also add all the times you'll have to drag your readers away from something you've just managed to interest them in, in order to show them somebody else.

    So perhaps try to work out how you're going to handle the interest and curiosity of the reader through all these individual stories. Find ways to make them happy about being torn from one MC to another. Make sure the threads are connected by cause and effect and not just by coincidence or people knowing each other. Decisions made in one thread should feel as if they'll affect what happens in another. Or several others.

    So, to answer your question, I think you should plot everything together, as a complex thing, not separately.
     
  5. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Well the best advice I can give is this:
    1. make sure you have one cohesive story, with one central storyline.
    2. make sure you establish a connection of all MC's stories to the advancement of the central story.
    3. establish a role, significance, goal, and purpose for each character.
    4. Create a Central timeline, then create timelines for each character you have, then see where they cross. those will be your big scenes that every bit of sub story leads up to.

    If you do it that way you could break it into parts and each part has one of these centtral collisions.

    Next, to keep readers interested, you need to have a balance. Don't write too much behind one character then switch suddenly. Give the readers a little of everyone and as tensions rise in each of their lives, start weaving things together until they all end up round the same central story.

    THE ONLY REASON they should appear in the same book is if they all share the central story at scenes where they come together-- major scenes. Other wise it would be best to cut down on MCs and maybe write more than one book. The biggest issue I see here is not plot developement, but the ability to develope characters and advance the plot at the same time. with one POV its easy. With Two POV [like a hero and anti-hero] its not as easy. But 3 and up starts getting confusing because you know you have to advance the plot, but you continually jump from character to character slowing things down a lot and giving only glimpses into who the characters really are.

    Try to make them identifiable if that makes sense :)
     
  6. kingzilla
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    kingzilla Senior Member

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    I have a principal plot, everything does tie together tightly. Don't be confused when I saw that each of my POV's have a separate story. There is never a point where the scenes are repeated. Each POV represents a different side of the story and there are plenty of subplots, but there is one main story.

    Edit: @Michaelj I think you missed what I am saying. There is the main plot, and these POVs are all in it, and are related and know each other. In fact, not to get into my book to far, three of the POVs are princes of the nation. I would be making the same book in different views if I made each POV a separate book.
     
  7. blandmanblind
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    blandmanblind Member

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    Have you considered the overall theme of the novel? You know the story, but what is the defining element in the story? The "moral" of the story, as it were. If you understand that, then you can structure a non-linear novel (chapter placement/order) to gradually reveal that premise. Am I making sense?

    Let's say we have the theme of "family ties." Now you could start the book with chapters with apathetic family members (which could come from before/middle/after the primary story). All the while you have characters and descriptions that show the reader tidbits of information about what's going on (i.e. one scene the city of ****** is majestic and beautiful and another it is a war torn wasteland). As the conflict rises, you jump around to contentious events between these same family members (any of the same time periods as before), and rightly so as the events of the story are weighing the most heavy on each character, not necessarily when they are the most climactic in spectacle. Afterwards, in the falling action you can show how those with the stronger "family ties" thrived better (using the same method of jumping around in time, i.e. even those families that seemed to have initial hatred earlier in the book could be shown to have survived because of a flashback chapter that revealed how strong their actual commitment to one another was to begin with). This can all be integrated in that during each of these chapters you are revealing more and more about the actual plot of the novel, the "what happened," the "who done it," and why.

    I have almost confused myself, but I hope that helps.
     

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