1. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    Plot too complicated?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Leonardo Pisano, May 6, 2011.

    I am writing a conspiracy thriller, but get a lot of subplots that in the end of the day come (should come - not done yet) together. My question is if it is too complicated. Is there any rule of thumb about how many "parallel threads" should be the limit?
     
  2. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    This is actually a good question, and really, it depends on how long you want your book to be. If you're trying to be the size of War and Peace, then you can have as many as you want. Otherwise, you'll need to do some trimming on it possibly. How many subplots do you have currently?
     
  3. DeNile
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    DeNile Senior Member

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    It does really depend on the size of your novel, and if they come together well. I myself have... 1...2... carry the... then... Hmm. One moment.

    A lot. A lot of subplots. I have an overarching plot that encompasses all the characters, as well as their various individual plots based around their goals, plus prophetic dream plots that tell the history of the world, plus one or two romantic subplots. Wow that's a lot of plot... Good thing I don't outline :D In total, about eight, but some split and grow and some come together at various times.

    Anyway, if you can make it work, go for it! Remember, it's your writing, do what you want. I wouldn't say there is any rule of thumb apart from length. Obviously the longer the work the easier it is to work with more and so on.
     
  4. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    Your plots don't have to "come together" but should certainly be intertwined in a meaningful way.

    Two movies come to mind. "The Onion Movie" was amazing in that it had all these subplots that seemingly had nothing to do with anything, but then everything came together in the final scene. That is, every single scene, every joke and every bit, all built up to the conclusion, and all the characters showed up in funny and unexpected ways. This worked because it was a comedy and would probably seem campy in a more serious setting. A more serious book would have to be much more subtle with a conclusion like this.

    Another movie that is a brilliant example of that is "Sin City." This was taken from the graphic novel that was a series of loosely connected plot-lines. The idea is that through all these different stories with different characters, you get a feel for the city. Through the eyes of only one main character, you would always get a biased view from that character. Through the eyes of many, you get an unbiased opinion.

    The way "Sin City" the movie works is this: Though there are several protagonists, there still is a main character, Bruce Willis as Hartigan. He is in the first main scene, and the last 3-4 scenes. You see him in only one short scene, where you learn about the main villain, a pedophile murder named Roark Junior. Then, the movie moves on to two other stories with completely new protagonists and villains. Through these stories, you learn that the true antagonist is not Roark Junior, but the city itself. The city is corrupt, with only a handful of honest cops and in under the thumb of the Roark Family. Though the middle stories only loosely tie up with the main plot with Hartigan, without them the conclusion wouldn't make sense. Hartigan is not trying to defeat Roark Junior, he is trying to defeat the city itself. I'd recommend watching this movie to get an idea how "unrelated" stories can all feed into one major plot.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It depends on how well you write. If you lose the reader, it's not because your plot network is too complex, it's because you didn't make it clkear enough to the reader.

    Obviously, a more complicated plot structure requires more skill.
     
  6. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    Thank you all. Food for thought and I am less worried although keeping the book <100K words will be a challenge. But challenges are the fun part of writing, so who cares?
     
  7. Brandon P.
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    Brandon P. Senior Member

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    I've had the opposite problem: my plots are so simple and straightforward that the stories end up being short even if I'm aiming for a novel. I don't know if it's a lack of imagination on my part or if it's because I don't like filling up my stories with subplots.
     
  8. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I say go for it: in my conspiracy thrillers I always struggle with the opposite, only having one main plot where everything moves way too quickly...
     
  9. wicked_poppies
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    wicked_poppies Member

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    Some books do have a complicated plot. The key is to just make sure you tie up all your loose ends. I’ve read several books that had complicated plots that I didn’t quite understand in the end, but those where the ones I went back and reread.
     
  10. sweetaholic
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    sweetaholic New Member

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    I think it depends on a couple of things: the audience you're writing for and how well you write.

    I've read stories on a site I used to be a member of that were really out of place. It was an action/thriller with a lot of death and destruction on a fanfic site for a musician a lot of people consider to be very angelic. I thought it was great but the author eventually took it down because it wasn't getting enough attention.

    I, personally, adore stories that make me think and demand my attention but my brother wants things handed to him. I love getting lost in a story and realizing that the new twist in it was actually slightly hinted at earlier in the story. Or seeing the beginning of the end coming together. It really gets my heart racing and makes the book nearly impossible to put down.

    I think that since you're writing a conspiracy theory story, the more plots there are, the better it could be.
     

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