Writing Tips: Multiple Storylines

Yup, you read the title right: Multiple storylines. But who, you ask, likes storylines enough to write more than one? 

I, for one, have always hated writing storylines. If I was going to write, I was going to write my story, not a storyline; I could figure it out myself. Unfortunately, I stuck with that belief for a loooong time, which is exactly why none of my stories ever got finished. I am the type of person who has very distracted and unorganized thoughts and hundreds of little plots … and who knew I’d be writing more than one storyline one day (and not going crazy)?pencil_paper

So why do I suddenly encourage people to write more than one storyline? A year ago I started writing Netherworld, the first in a fantasy series. I knew right away that if this was going to be work, I needed to write a storyline first. So I wrote one. But there was one problem: I did not have an ending, which forced me to rewrite and rewrite it again. I realized my mistake; I had learned the hard way. No storyline = unnecessary stress.

But believe me, no matter how much you think you know your whole book, you must have at least some kind of storyline. Unless you are this ingenious person who can write a whole book without one, it will help so much. So how came I to write two?

After talking with a fellow writer, who gave me enough inspiration to add a whole section to the beginning (on the background of my villain), I was so excited; I knew finally that my story had just gotten 10 times better and I couldn’t wait to rewrite it, storyline and all.

I don’t know how you all write your storylines, but I have always written it from the writer’s perspective: basically I would summarize my whole book and it would end up being about ten or more pages long. While writing, I would write in my own notes: how certain scenes play out in the end, how little things create little secrets that are revealed in this part of the story, and so on. These little notes to myself were things that my reader must not know about until a certain time in the book or later on in the series.

Which I think is a brilliant idea. But this storyline was absolutely crazy. It was so confusing. Even I had trouble reading it and finding a certain scene, because of all my notes I had put in, to make sure I  understood it. (And I thought I was being so organized … ) My brilliant-er idea: Write the same storyline in the reader’s perspective. I just had to think outside the box.

The answer to my prayers. I had gone from a very unorganized, storyline-hating writer to a writer who knew her story and her characters better because of the storylines she had written. I was able to read my summarized story from my perspective and my reader’s perspective at the same time. It really worked. I just cut and pasted the “my perspective” storyline onto a different document and deleted all my notes (which is harder than it seems, and takes more time, but is very well worth it).

So, since this helped me, I thought maybe it would help other writers out there. Maybe it gives you other ideas for your storyline, or maybe just convicted you of writing no storyline whatsoever. Perhaps you could get super creative and do a spinoff on this suggestion … but I’m done. Done. Done with my storylines. *wipes forehead* But hey, it was actually fun.

Like this idea? Do you have any good ideas on how to write a well-organized, efficient plot or storyline? Comment and share your opinions! I would love any possible alternatives.

3 responses to “Writing Tips: Multiple Storylines”

  1. This is actually pretty good! You would then know what the reader will feel when he/she reads the story, making it more likely for you to edit better. I’m not much of a novel person compared to a short story one, but I think that the complexity of writing novels is all too apparent when attempting to write one. I think this will help others very well so it was nice of you to share this! I prefer to keep my stories short to keep track of my ideas better, and I can focus on my words much more efficiently. But of course, to each, his own 🙂


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