yay foreshadowing

8

t: happy, i’m not gonna apologize for what i did earlier, because i wanted to protect you. by now, i figured you’d know why, but in case you don’t know…. i want my last words to have some meaning, so, happy quinn, i am in love-

h: people say stupid things in the heat of battle.
t: no, i meant it. i chose in the moment to live honestly and if you don’t feel the same way yet, i’m okay with it.
h: you’re confident.
t: in this i am. 

I’m a sucker for a complex plot.

I love the room it make for red herrings and twists, so that by the time I’ve finished the book the ending has properly hit me in the face. I’ve always lived for that - Oh, I see it now - moment, that comes when so many subplots and character motivations suddenly come together. But actually plotting a novel that succeeds in creating this moment is easier said than done. Plotting a complex storyline is, well, complex.

As always, there’s no one way to go about it. The important thing is not to be intimidated, and not to give up once you’ve hit a snag. I find it helps to pretend you are the captain of a ship.

Before a ship can sail you need to have all your parts in working order. Don’t even think about how they’re going to work together, just make sure you have them, and they function.

  • You’ll need a crew characters. They will all have backstories and motivations, because on your ship in your story they are real people. 
  • Every crew member should also have something to do, a purpose they serve. If they aren’t contributing to sailing the ship the story, throw them overboard. no mercy. 
  • You’ll need a reasonable port of departure initial setting, sails inciting incident, a rudder a number of subplots that contribute to the main plot, and supplies snacks because you’re going to be working on this for a while.  

Most importantly though, you need to know where you’re going. I cannot stress this enough. If you want to write a complicated plot, you need to know where you are going to end up. Know your ending. Even if it changed halfway out to sea, always have an ending in mind you plan to stick to.

Now, how do you use your sails inciting incident to get from your port of departure initial setting and action to your destination ending? Like a captain. Use a map.

You cannot go on pure instinct to write a complex story line. You need to make clear cut, concise, 

  • lists
  • diagrams
  • charts
  • even actual maps 

to keep things from spiraling out of control. Always know where you are out at sea in your story. Use. A. Map.

Now you need to get all your parts to work together to get to your destination. Take it one step at a time.

Make sure your crew members characters know their roles in relation to each other. Put them through the story one plot point at a time. Keep it simple. Write the bare minimum required of each plot point, so that when you’re done you have the skeleton of a story. Just as long as the ship floats, and makes it to its destination the story gets from beginning to end and makes sense.

Now, unlike a captain of a real ship, you can go back and add in all the good stuff. Yay. Subtle foreshadowing, elegant prose, philosophical points you forgot to raise, etc.

Congratulations. You’ve reached the new world captain, the world where you’ve written a novel that keeps people guessing and hits them right in the face with the ending. Go forth and write intricately plotted novels.

*Note. This metaphor also works with a train, a blimp, etc. Basically any mode of transportation it takes people and supplies to run.