Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Complex Storylines: Clarity is Key

How to keep your stories from being too complex?

~slaps knee~

Oh, dear reader, I am the least qualified to answer that. Reviews of my books have included such phrases as "little hard to follow" and "have to pay close attention"...and those are the kinder ways of saying, "Wait, WUT?"

I'm getting better. Honestly. Pretty sure. Somewhat.

I keep repeating the KISS mantra in the back of my mind, but at the fore are the multiple balls the protagonist is juggling that will eventually merge into one big road sign of "guilty party this way." Part of the ongoing process of honing my skills as a storyteller includes being more mindful of how many balls are in the air, being clearer about the connections, and allowing the beats to remind the reader of where we are and what we know without bludgeoning them.

So, my advice, for what it's worth, is to include a very clear statement at three points within each arc of your story:

  1. The beginning: This is what we want.
  2. The middle: This is what want, this is what we have, and this is what we need.
  3. The end: This is what we wanted, this is what we've got, and this where we're going next.
Clarity, it's the best companion to complexity.