Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Plot Points

There are a lot of creative authors out there - they can weave a myriad of tales so intense that it will make your head spin.  They'll rope you in and string you along, making you think that you're wandering down one path, only to discover it was all a ruse.

However, writers also have to be careful of this in two regards - first, while complicated plots can be exciting, they can also turn off people if they become too hard to follow; second, readers might tolerate a main plot and one or two sub-plots, but too many different plots will confuse them and send them to someone else.

In regards to the complicated plots, there can be a level of excitement to it.  Most of us who read extensively decry the simplistic stories we've seen and beg for something more intellectually challenging.  Still, writers have to remember that this doesn't grant license to make something so intricate that no one can follow it.  A complicated plotline that is well delivered allows the reader to piece things together at the very end, or else find all those hidden nuggets they didn't find by going back and re-reading the story.  What it doesn't do is make it so that only the writer can follow it.  When someone doesn't get it after a reading or two, they usually toss the work aside in disgust.  That kind of disgust can hamper an author's reputation for a long time.

With numbers of plots, I've come to discover that a lot of writers want to demonstrate how brilliant they are by putting in a lot of varying plots in the same story.  I'm sorry, but this never works for me.  I'm a simpleton, and I like a main plot, along with a couple of sub-plots that depend on the larger narrative.  This lets me stay straight on what I'm reading.  If I want several main plots, I'll buy several books.

Maybe this is presumptuous, but I think most casual readers would be similarly turned off by so many stories crammed into one.  We can write for the one or two folks who might buy something like that, or we can write for more people to enjoy.  Yes, stay true to yourself, but be honest with how many will enjoy what you produce.  I'm not saying to totally dumb down what you write, but just remember the reading habits of the public.

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