1. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    Writing two parallel character journey's?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by cosmic lights, Dec 9, 2020.

    So for the first time I have two main characters who each have a mystery to solve and in pursuit of answers their stories intertwine. How closely yet I haven't decided as I know very little about this new idea. I've written from multiple characters but never had two main characters who are both actively doing something. How do I go about doing this? Would it be best to plan out the actions of the two characters separately and then try and slot them together? It's more how to plan and pace the plot of these two stories that I'm having problems with.

    Happy to offer more information (what I know anyway) if needed.
    Thanks

    p.s I meant "two" but didn't know how to change the title sorry
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2020
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    Fixed.

    What do you mean by "actively doing something?" Were they dead or otherwise inert? Either way, how do you normally go about plotting? Do you plan first or make it up as you go? I wouldn't change what you do normally. You'll got some members who'll tell you to plan everything to last detail--make outlines, character sheets, flow charts, etc--while others will say wing it and see what happens.

    All depends on your regular process. I do very little planning and often ride multiple POVs. Often with independent narratives that tie together sooner or later (usually sooner), kind of like what you're describing. If it's a mystery, and both are investigating the same mystery, I would focus on what part of larger scheme drew each character in. Or how two smaller mysteries tie into a larger one. And remember you have dramatic irony up the ass in situations like that. Each character has no idea what the other character is doing. A clue found by one might aid the other but they have no way of knowing that before they meet. And the reader, who is privy to everything, gets to make their own connections/conclusions independent of the characters. That in turn leads to misdirection. Get the reader looking one way, smack them upside the head from the other.

    Mysteries are all about misdirection and reader participation.
     
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  3. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    I actually write like this since, oh about forever, in my current project.

    I start out with moments that tie my characters together (TIE-TOGETHER). Could be that they experience the same event from two countries apart, could be that one event impacts the other timeline. Could be that both characters are together in time and space.

    Then I find the individual starting points where the characters are before the TIE-TOGETHER events, trace backward and forward between these moments, and think about what I need to connect them.

    I write a bullet-point list. Then I outline their individual arcs in the short I'm currently writing. And then I go write.
    • I have an xls sheet with the year/month of my shorts and the titles, tracking characters' ages, and a one-sentence summary of this particular short.
    • I have an big-outline in years, tracking geopolitical events so that I won't forget the world that happens around them.
    • I have a txt file with title, year, expanded summary (not more than five sentences) of the events.
    • I have yet another txt file for after/during writing a short, tracking titles of shorts one after another, where I make notes about what I need to yet find out (i.e. location, particular customs,..)
    All of them get updated regularly. Yeah, it's lots of work, but it's so, so, so rewarding. Hope this helps. Happy writing!
     
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  4. IHaveNoName

    IHaveNoName Senior Member Community Volunteer

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    You could try this: write the stories separately, as a first draft, then on the second draft, you can figure out how to intertwine them. It's much easier to work with what you already have, than to try to work with what you're writing. As an added bonus, having a first draft will enable you to see the big picture: find and fix things that are missing, smooth over rough spots, and generally work out the plot and pacing.
     
  5. M Skylar Stice

    M Skylar Stice New Member

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    While I sketch out the higher level story flow, the details almost always come when I write. If I were to do it my way I would write one chapter for each character and either alternate them or write them in contiguous chunks. Then I would come to a point where either the actions of the characters affect each other or, they directly interact. I would then write that chapter. You will likely go back and backfill stuff as you detail out the story.

    In my WIP I have two threads happening in different places. They tie together very loosely, so they are rather parallel independent threads until the threads are about to merge, so writing them is easier. Yours sounds like there could be interactions more often, so I would do it in this stepwise fashion, thinking about each thread in turn.
     
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  6. GH0ST

    GH0ST Member

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    Just don't do it like The Last of Us Part II, and you will be fine.
     
  7. Oxymaroon

    Oxymaroon Contributor Contributor

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    I wrote one where three different lines intertwine. In fairness, though, the third, minor, one is actually the link between the two planets, so that events taking place on each affect the other. However, the three protagonists are not acquainted and never meet or communicate directly. I wrote the separate stories as alternating chapters, headed by their respective locations. All three stories take place in the same time period - about 10 months - or the frame wouldn't work.
     
  8. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    If it helps, I'm currently trying to edit my 12-year-long fantasy that I thought was finished. 4 POV characters and I honestly thought I had only one MC. I've since decided fuck that, I'm turning all my POV characters into MCs. Previously I'd used the beat sheet from Save the Cat for my urban fantasy, so I'm reusing that. And honestly, all I did was give each character a column, fit events I already have from the book into each beat. And then I rearranged and added new things (red) as gaps arose. This way, I can make sure each character definitely has an arc. And I tried to make sure certain points of the book are the same - eg. one event affects all 4 characters at the same time - just to ensure their journeys coincide.

    revised outline.jpg
     
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  9. Oxymaroon

    Oxymaroon Contributor Contributor

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    ^^That's incredibly disciplined.
     
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