Thursday, December 15, 2011

Juggling Multiple Story Lines

Fierce has three main characters with their own story lines. They have their own points of view but experience the same events, so I have to weave their stories together.

I had a hard enough time organizing the scenes for Sacred Fire 

Having multiple points of view will make the book richer, but it's not easy. How do I pull this off?

This is what I've done so far:

1. Create a separate outline for each character in a word document.
2. Write each scene on a card. 
3. Lay all the cards out on the floor and organize them so the character's lives intersect in a way that's coherent.
4. Write the book the way I've organized it.

These steps weren't so bad. It's the revision part that gets tricky. I'm trying to make sure each story is fully developed and can stand on its own. When I read through the book, I'm working with so much information that it's next to impossible to give each my individual attention.

I've added a few more steps. The process is an experiment and it makes me nervous, but I think it'll work:

5. Separate all the scenes into three word documents, one for each character.
6. Work on each document one at a time. Develop each story line enough that if they were three different books, they'd be complete and satisfying.
7. Reweave the stories the way I originally organized them.

Have you ever tried to juggle multiple story lines? What was your process?


  1. Whenever I do multiple storylines, I usually wind up with columns in a spread sheet telling me what is happening to various characters at the same time in order to keep the time line consistent. I've thought about making flow charts but I haven't gone that far from my pantser roots yet.

    I've tried doing it without organizing it in a visual form but I've ended up with a lot of dead time and inconsistencies.

  2. That's a good idea. JK Rowling does it that way. I think that's especially helpful if your characters interact a lot, which mine don't.

  3. I'm working with a similar story: a three-viewpoint storyline that I flailed away at during the 2011 NaNo. I did some rough outlining before I started, but when I focused on writing each minibook separately (steps 6-7), things got disjointed very quickly.

    If the storyline didn't depend so much on all three groups, I'd be tempted to chuck the split-story idea and just run with one viewpoint. As it is, I think I'm going to go back and give steps 2-3 a try again. *pokes story*

    I like the spreadsheet idea, but for me index cards and colored markers work best to coax my left-brain into helping sort out the right-brain's good intentions.

  4. I make it a point to never promote my own blog in the comments of other's blogs...but I'm going to just this once because I JUST did a huge post about using storyboards to keep your multiple characters and storylines straight. And I put up a picture too :)

    Hope you get a chance to stop by and check it out, and feel free to drop me a direct email if you want more details. (I write historical too)

    Christi Corbett

  5. I have a similar-ish situation with two of my novels. They are 'twin' novels, one from the female MC's point of view and the other from the male MC's pov. I've edited the heck out of the first one, but the second has been left way behind and will take a total overhaul to get in line!

  6. FYI, the link to Christi's blog post is

    Thanks for sharing it!


I love hearing from my readers!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...