Complex Storytelling

… or the artistry of the subplot.

I have come to learn that a simple, linear storyline will not only bore your audience, but in all likelihood, fail to get your story the standard number of words expected of a published piece of work.

Most adult novels run between 80,000 and 100,000 words, with a few exceptions for talent and genre. Therefore, developing a good subplot or three will only help you.

In my latest novel I realized about forty pages in, that my story would fall exponentially short of 80,000 words. So after a few weeks of deep thought I discovered which character whose existence would not only add depth, but compliment my main protagonist. As it goes though, I accidentally created a secondary protagonist. I also have the mind to include an additional storyline, though I haven’t quite worked that idea all the way through.

I wanted to put this out there because I personally have a difficult time creating complex storylines. This is the biggest hurdle I’ve had to jump in recent months, and something I hope to conquer without too much more difficulty. In my endeavor to improve this aspect of my writing, I’ve been noting when I see something especially complex and well done. I can cite two great examples off the top of my head: Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey.

I won’t go into detail about Game of Thrones, as a lot of people have read that series, but Downton Abbey is a recent discovery for me that does the multiple storylines spectacularly. In the beginning you get introduced to the core members of the noble family, their struggles and desires are laid out in the first ten minutes. Then they bring in the servant’s struggles and desires and it becomes a lasagna dish of perfectly layered doses of drama, intrigue and romance. I admit that I am now completely addicted to this TV show and am studying how to make the overlap of story-lines better in my own writing.

If anyone has any ideas on complex storytelling, please comment below. I’d be interested in any tips.

Happy Writing!

E.E.

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