Monday, June 13, 2011

Plotting Along

Literary Lab has a post today about when plots and subplots get in the way of each other.  Have you had that happen, where the climax of one plot downplays or even makes the climax of the other impossible?  I think in most books this isn’t a problem as most have one main plot with several supporting subplots and as long as the main plot thrives the others are malleable. 

Domey brings up the point of multi-plotted epics.  You know, those books that follow several people/situations through to the end, alternating between each of them.  Some of these novels tie up the plot threads along the way, first one, then another.  But Domey makes a good point that this often leaves us with little tension as we get to the end since most of the questions have already been wrapped up.  There are also books where the multiple threads are all climaxed together, or close enough together so as not to break the tension.

Doemy brought up Anna Karenina, which is one of my favorite books. There are two main plot threads that are so closely woven together they are almost indistinguishable.  However one is point and one counterpoint to what Tolstoy was trying to say.  The counterpoint ends, tragically, just before the point finds its conclusion and the heartbreaking ending of Anna emphasizes the completeness of Levin’s life.  It’s very interesting how these two threads play off each other. 

Have any of you written multi plotted books or do you stick to main plot/subplot?  How do you resolve your plotlines?  Together, gradually, or does the resolving of one plot negate the others? How are the plots/subplots resolved in some of your favorite books?  I'm always interested in how some of these amazing authors are able to weave together so many threads into an amazing tapestry of words without any snarls or tangles.  The sequel to Far From the Sea has several interwoven plotlines, though I think there is still one thread that the others weave around and I’m interested in how other authors handle this. 

11 comments:

  1. Good question! My current WIP has a theme that the main plot charts and all the subplots tie in, but they are all woven together. I don't think I could do it any other way.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My subplots all play off the same ideas as my main plot and create more tension in the main plot because of conflicts they bring up.

    Now that I think back on them two of my early novels didn't really have subplots. I think that's one of the reasons they didn't work out.

    ReplyDelete
  3. My subplots are interwoven through out my novel main plot/plots. I know where all of them are going for the most part. Some I end fairly quickly but snap a new one in holding the tension...others are carried through to the end. I do like an Indian drumbeat type rhythm...dum, dum, boom, dum, dum, boom, boom, boom, dum, dum, BOOM!while writing. The tension never stops it wanes a little in the echo of the previous. The dums are subplots twiddling along with the booms being climatic endings or events with the final BOOM tying it all together at the end.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have a main plot and what I call sub-themes. They aren't really plots as such, but they do trundle along next to the main story, adding bits and pieces here and there.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jo, That's a good way to keep tension up throughout the novel. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Widdershins, Sub-themes, how interesting. I like that. It's funny how hearing something just a little differently can clarify something in your mind. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I don't *think* I have too many plotlines. I wonder if that's a failing? I enjoy books with complicated and many plotlines but... Ah well, chalk it up to someday. Someday I'd like to write a mystery as well :-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think if you listen to your story you'll have just as many plot lines as is right. How are the edits coming? When does your class start?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Reading this post and trying to answer your question, I am thinking : "oh my. I am so far from that. Plot and sub plots, I never intentionally thought, yes, let's think of a subplots that will go nicely along the main plot!" I think it requires great analytical skills to be this structured, skills that I completely lacked. So now that you are mentioning it, yes I probably have subplots but which ones? I am not even sure.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Don't worry, I didn't do any of it intentionally. I was doing a read through of everything I had written when I saw some repetition of themes. You could have knocked me over with a feather I was so startled. I had themes!

    Same with subplots. I just wrote the story and it was on a read through I thought, hey that's a subplot and it echos the plot in this way. Once I noticed it I payed a little more attention so I could amp up the tension and the way they interact.

    So just listen to the story and the things that are supposed to be there will be. You may need to do a little pruning but that's what rewrites are for. Good luck and thanks for commenting!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Eek! Class starts tomorrow! I'm working steadily on the square brackets - up to page 50 - but I really need to fix the ending.

    ReplyDelete