Craft Chat Plot threads. What's your thread count?

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A very useful link—thank you for posting it, Katie-Ellen. I like what she advises about keeping a file to preserve all of the 'darlings' you've killed, the clever bits of writing that you decided were too flashy for their own good. After all, who knows how many famous quotes from literature gave their creator a twinge of conscience about whether they were showing-off? As my mechanic uncle used to say, when dismantling a dead piece of machinery, to store the nuts, bolts and washers: "that bit might come in useful one day."

The notion of threads that run through a story, is one that I've been mindful of in creating a series of novels about a Cornish detective. The three stories are linked by ideas, characters and events—some of which appear to have no great relevance at the time—though they have impact later on in the next book. In this way, writing a series is different to forming a stand-alone novel.
 
Did you have a helicopter view of your entire series and its approximate ending when you started the first book, Paul?
 
Did you have a helicopter view of your entire series and its approximate ending when you started the first book, Paul?

I didn't set anything in stone before writing the first novel being more of a pantser than a planner, but I had a firm idea of the story arc of my protagonist detective. I rather shot myself in both feet by making my debut double the 80,000-word length that publishers are prepared to take a risk on.

The plotting structure was too complex to rebuild, which would have been like making a garden shed out of a church, so I wrote a prequel of the correct length. This was surprisingly tricky to do initially, as I was already in the mindset of my hero copper, who's a widower with depression in the original book. Moving him three years back in time, closer to the death of his wife needed lots of reappraisal. I intend to give him a romance, with a witness from the replacement first novel—though she won't return until the fifth book.

A serial killer from the second story might make a comeback, as his supposed death in a sinkhole wasn't certain. Other characters, such as a police snitch, coroner, forensic pathologist and newspaper reporter drift in and out of the plot, making their contribution and having their own backstories.

As for having an approximate ending in mind when I started, I didn't, knowing that would be affected by any commercial success the series enjoyed. All the same, I find that the fictional world I've created is more real than reality—partly why I started the thread on writing being addictive.
 
The amount of work there is incredible. And the reality of a fictional world is - well, a reality. It's a shamanic creation.

Sinkholes.....shudder!!!
 
A very useful link—thank you for posting it, Katie-Ellen. I like what she advises about keeping a file to preserve all of the 'darlings' you've killed, the clever bits of writing that you decided were too flashy for their own good. After all, who knows how many famous quotes from literature gave their creator a twinge of conscience about whether they were showing-off? As my mechanic uncle used to say, when dismantling a dead piece of machinery, to store the nuts, bolts and washers: "that bit might come in useful one day."

The notion of threads that run through a story, is one that I've been mindful of in creating a series of novels about a Cornish detective. The three stories are linked by ideas, characters and events—some of which appear to have no great relevance at the time—though they have impact later on in the next book. In this way, writing a series is different to forming a stand-alone novel.


I love this! Your uncle the mechanic is a wise man.
 
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