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  1. The_Joker

    The_Joker Banned

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    Web serial plot balance

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by The_Joker, Jun 30, 2020.

    My current project is about a young woman named Dzesika, who is one of the last remaining huntsmages, a once powerful guild that fights a diminishing monster population. What I hope differentiates my setting from most other fantasy is that it is not stuck in medieval stasis, and is instead cyberpunk.

    Dzesika herself is actually a clone of mage named Raena, a research team leader working for ExoGen, a sinister biotech megacorp. She escaped their labs at 16 and ended up the Huntsmage Guild. Now she's 22 and travels the world, plying her trade wherever it's needed.

    So my problem is that I'm unsure how to balance the main plot with all the side stories I want to tell. The main plot will deal with the arrival of Frederik in her life, a hacker whose father was killed by ExoGen after getting his hands on their dirty secrets. This will lead to the re-opening of old wounds and a deep, dark investigation into the depths of ExoGen's depravity.

    But I want to balance this with a variety of standalone side stories that have little to nothing to do with one another. One-off monster hunts that explore various aspects of the setting. Once the main plot kicks off, I fear it can't be stopped. So I don’t know how many side stories to do first, or how many I can do once I start building towards the main plot. Some ways to break up the main investigation so I can squeeze some side content in would be great.

    Any thoughts would be helpful.
     
  2. Xoic

    Xoic Senior Member

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    You might consider setting it up as a series rather than a novel. I'm thinking of certain TV shows that feature a season-long arc but also included side plots within it, like Buffy.

    Edit—just saw your signature. So it's a web series? I think that will work nicely. Just be sure to keep your main plotline alive to some extent in each side plot in some way, at least reminders of it. Or maybe not, a side plot could be almost completely separate.
     
  3. The_Joker

    The_Joker Banned

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    The problem is that once the investigation into the main plot starts, I'm unsure how to stop it. It's a deeply personal matter for Dzes and Frederik and will uncover some horrifying things. I need some way to break it up, cause dead ends.
     
  4. Xoic

    Xoic Senior Member

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    Well, if it's an investigation, there can be periods where they have no more clues to investigate for a long enough period to include a side plot briefly. One episode, and then back to the investigation when the next clue turns up or they make some headway. It means setting it up on a particular time scale, so that the investigation happens stage by stage, and there are 'breather' points along the way. As I keep hearing, most police work (investigation) is very dull stuff, a lot of research and legwork.

    To return to my Buffy example, they usually had to turn to the books to learn about the particular demons involved and how to fight them. This causes periods where there's no real action, maybe Willow and Giles are researching leaving Buffy free to get involved in other things, or the side plots involve other characters like Anya and Xander. It sounds like you might not have any side characters? That might be a good idea to look into.
     
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  5. The_Joker

    The_Joker Banned

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    The only ones I can think of are Sarthak, her huntsmage mentor, some kind of InterPol-esque cop I was considering being a help in their investigation, and maybe a few scenes with Raena.

    Another issue is that I don't want to keep the investigation only in Roskovia (Dzes/Raena and Frederik's home country). Sarthak is from a far off country as the Guild is an international organization. I don't want to keep them cooped up in one country for too long.
     
  6. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Member

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    Maybe you're just going to have to bite the bullet on this one, and make it so you have one story with the main plot, and then have a collection of short stories. But if you're really keen on keeping it all one book, I'd say the most you can get away with is two or three before the reader gets annoyed with being distracted from the main plot. Also, the side stories should have something to do with the main...I dunno. Consider Cabbages and Kings by O'Henry. He's a short story writer, but he compiled a bunch of his stories on the topic of revolution in South America (you would not believe how much that guy writes about revolutions in South America....) and it's more or less how you describe. Except I assume you're not as short-story oriented as the man. Very few people are...

    Oh hey, here it is online: http://www.online-literature.com/o_henry/cabbages-and-kings/1/
     
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  7. Whitecrow

    Whitecrow Member

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    This can be done through alternation. Change between themselves the main story and side stories.
    It is important not to give more than one sub story at a time and not leave the main story on cliffhengers.

    In the first case, throwing more than one sub story in a row will confuse the reader.
    In the second, it will be difficult for a person to concentrate on a sub story if the main story dwells on an important point. (It will be like Last of us 2. When they left one story on the cliffhanger, and switched to another story ...)
     
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