Monday, 12 April 2010

Complex Plotlines

I am told that I don't write standard romances because my storylines are too complicated. This confuses me somewhat, because even if a couple have conflict to work through to fulfil their goal of being together, how can they do so without interaction and relationships with other people who affect their lives?

As a result of visiting blogs and writing sites to see where I am going wrong - if indeed it is wrong to have more than one storyline running through a novel. One article reads:

'Action is not story. Events are not story. We don't have story until we have a determined character with a goal who faces mounting obstacles along the way to achieving that goal.
If your hero's goal is to find a hidden family treasure, then create events that prevent him reaching that goal. Don't have him solving a murder, save his best friend from a gangster and build a racing car from a kit at the same time. Pick a single, central conflict.'

The above make perfect sense, [except the 'Events are not story', bit which I am still struggling with], and certainly applies if you are creating a novel from scratch and can control the influence one character has on another and restrict their own actions in the context of the novel.

As I write historically based fiction, major events tend to drive my stories - e.g. the family I have chosen to write about faced a particular conflict due to the English Civil War. I have tried to restrict this conflict to the specific goals of my heroine, but the trials and tribulations of other members of her family are inevitably bound up in what she is going through.

I have included other, relevant characters whose external conflict due to events impact on my heroine, but the internal conflict is exclusively hers to give the story focus and make readers care what happens to her. Real life, however, is not simple, or clear. A story doesn't always revolve around two people and loose ends rarely get tied up in the final chapter.

Is this making a novel 'too complicated?'


Mirella Sichirollo Patzer said...

Hi Anita,

I completely understand what you're saying. I suspect you and I are having these romance novel dilemmas because we are not romance writers at heart. Rather, we're biographical authors. And in biographical novels, have you ever read one that didn't have a complicated plot? Think about it and the answer is no. It's impossible.

Perhaps a complicated plot is not great for a romance novel, but it's perfectly okay in other genres. It's likely as simple as that.

You're a brilliant writer who writes fascinating, accurate, and intriguing books. Never forget that.

Nadine Laman said...

I agree, action and events are not the story, no more than setting is. Drama is people. The only importance of action, events, and setting is the impact they have on the people (characters, even fantasy 'people').

Sounds to me that you are on the right track. Trust yourself and continue to question the advice out there.

Victoria Dixon said...

Even if your story is too complicated (which I doubt), bring it! I love complicated, intricate plots!