Plot Layers and weaving:
Good Morning Bloggers!

Today we'll be talking about Plot Layers. Plot layers are plots given to the same character, not secondary characters. Contemporary breakout fiction makes extensive use of plot layers, which reflect the multi-tiered complexity that most people feel is the condition of life today.

Have you ever noticed how everything seems to happen at once? Good things come in threes. When it rains it pours. Layers give novels the rich texture of real life. Building them into your story is extra work, but the reward is a rich resonance and complexity.

While looking over your outline or WIP, ask yourself one simple question: What additional problems can she face?(Make sure they are not problems with the main plot).

Weaving a Story:

Having added layers to your novel, the next step is to get them working together; that is, to connect them. Without links you might as well be writing separate novels. Finding reasons for your layers to coexist is what I call weaving them together.

The particular devices you use to make the connections happen are called nodes of conjunction. A setting in your story may recur, serving double duty in different layers. A character who faces his own problems in a subplot may bring relief, or introduce a complication, to your protagonist, who is facing his own conflict. Secondary characters can get dragged into story lines they did not expect to grapple with. These are the ways in which story lines cross.

Mr. Maass has two steps that can help you weave plot layers and subplots together:

1. One a single sheet of paper, make three columns. In the first column list your novel's major and secondary characters. In the middle column, list the principle narrative lines: main problem, extra plot layers, subplots, minor narrative threads, questions to be answered in the course of the story, etc. In the right-hand column, list the novel's principle places (major settings).

2. With circles and lines, connect a character, a narrative line, and a place. Keep drawing lines and circles at random, making connections. See what develops. When a random connection suddenly makes sense, make notes.

How do you reveal your plot surprises?

I laughed when I saw this question. You'd be surprised, I barely plan the surprises. They happen. The few I have planned have ended up just coming out. I don't build it up too much, because I want the readers to be surprised. Building it up just forces it to become predictable. I want the kids to get in trouble for screaming, "OH SHIT!"

Have you ever watched a good movie and then suddenly became disappointed because you predicted every second? Not because it was cliche, but because it had too much build up? Yeah -- I want to avoid that at all costs.

So my method? Leave the reader's in the dark, then blind them with the light.
1 Response
  1. "I want the kids to get in trouble for screaming, "OH SHIT!"

    Haha yes! Great post.


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