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Complex and Confusin: A fine line.

Addison

Auror
I am so close to being done with this NIP but still can't reach it! It's like being a toddler who's big enough to see and reach over the counter but can't reach the cookie jar.
Has anyone else had this problem?; You have a middle, and ending, and the beginning of the second act or end of the first act. But it's the beginning, the beginning of the whole thing, that you're still struggling with. Either you can't think of one or you have so many ideas that you can't choose? I'm having that problem. I have the general idea of how I want to get from the very first sentence to what I have already. But the entire picture, the story board of events, not even sorta. I have a dozen ideas of how but they each give more to the story. More complexity.
One case has the protagonist discovering magic by cleaning out the attic and then finding the maker (who had printed the logo on the bottom). This one doesn't give that much complexity. The other do.
The story starts with the hero in their teens or early twenties, living a life they wish could end (not in the death sense) After an unbearable day, the last straw, she/he leaves and finds themself in the magic world turned back into an eleven year old. The third is like this only the protagonist has amnesia.
The final one is the most complicated. Protag and mother (or just him, version B of this one) has found peace after the chaos leading them to it, but the chaos is ripped away when their friend is revealed a thief. Years later they running from the stalker who had revealed the truth and had followed them since and wind up in a community who could use some help. A lot of it.

If anyone sees a common denominator, please tell me. But you see my point? The more complex you make it, while it adds depth and such, it also becomes confusing. How do you give enough complexity to keep the story interesting without giving your readers a head ache?
 

Penpilot

Staff
Article Team
I used to have this problem where I would try to throw everything including the kitchen sink into a story. Things would get incredibly convoluted as I tried to fit everything together and have it make sense.

I found that my problem was I was starting with an incredibly complex plot with so many moving parts that it was hard to keep straight in my head, and thus hard to get across to he reader. I figured out that I should start with very simple core plot and layer the complex elements over that to create the more complex plot. If I find that it's really hard to attach something to that simple plot, then it probably doesn't fit with the story, and I'm just trying to force things.
 
I found that my problem was I was starting with an incredibly complex plot with so many moving parts that it was hard to keep straight in my head, and thus hard to get across to he reader. I figured out that I should start with very simple core plot and layer the complex elements over that to create the more complex plot. If I find that it's really hard to attach something to that simple plot, then it probably doesn't fit with the story, and I'm just trying to force things.

Agreed. One way I look at writing is a pull-push between "think of more stuff" and "make it dovetail together." And I always call it dovetailing, making different threads start to merge or resolve with each other. If there's an Unpredictable Rogue tearing up the fringes of the plot, at some point he needs to join a side or get killed, in a way that builds momentum for the total.

Of course, this is planning from the end, while Penpilot spreads out from the start, but they're both about knowing which threads are most important.

And once you decide what's key... well, picking a starting scene cold is still tricky. But at least you know what's most important about the end and the journey, and you can start looking for angles on that, to find what kind of innocence or weakness or threat to spotlight then that the rest of the story resolves.
 

Rullenzar

Troubadour
Start with something simple. Every story starts off by showing you what a normal day in the life of your main character is. Once you have this down add in the jaw dropping/pull the reader in parts.
 

Penpilot

Staff
Article Team
Agreed. One way I look at writing is a pull-push between "think of more stuff" and "make it dovetail together." And I always call it dovetailing, making different threads start to merge or resolve with each other. If there's an Unpredictable Rogue tearing up the fringes of the plot, at some point he needs to join a side or get killed, in a way that builds momentum for the total.

Of course, this is planning from the end, while Penpilot spreads out from the start, but they're both about knowing which threads are most important.

And once you decide what's key... well, picking a starting scene cold is still tricky. But at least you know what's most important about the end and the journey, and you can start looking for angles on that, to find what kind of innocence or weakness or threat to spotlight then that the rest of the story resolves.

Totally agree. I think what wordwalker is describing and what I'm describing are two halves of the same puzzle. I dovetaling from a singular point at the beginning and just as important, that dovetailing should fold back on itself and converge towards the end. Now, not all stories do this, especially ones in a series, but it's a way to think about how things fit together. If it doesn't fit, out it goes.
 

Addison

Auror
I know that it's best, if not key, to bring the readers into the conflict as quickly as possible. Do you think the speed depends on the story? Should it be like bungee jumping, nice and easy flight down then BANG! you're flying up and falling down, up and down, up and down all over again. Or should it be like skiing, first you do a Bunny Trail (nice and easy) then detour to a black diamond run?
 

Penpilot

Staff
Article Team
IMHO speed depends on the story. The more complex the story, the more view points, etc, chances are you'll need to have a slower start so you don't overwhelm the reader. Look at Game of Thrones. The story was a slow crawl at the beginning.
 

Addison

Auror
So a beginning should bring the reader into a conflict and into a connection with the character.....alright I got the beginning, it just needs smoothing out.
 
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