It was a mess of shoots and branches tangled together and it reminded me of the plot of my current work in progress.
It made me realise I have so many loose ends going in all different directions – many of them not really heading anywhere. Because things are such a tangle, it’s also difficult to identify some of the individual plot threads.
As I planted the vine in a pot (so it wouldn’t get completely out of control) I untangled the shoots and trained them around and through the wire garden obelisk.
I pointed them all towards the top of the obelisk – just like I need to do with the loose ends in my story – they have to be moving towards the climax.
When I looked at the vine from the top it looked more like a bush – which is kind of how a story needs to be – a lot happening in the middle to sustain it through to the end. But through all that there has to be continuous threads that wind their way through the story.
As I carefully separated and guided the arms of the vine in the direction they needed to go, I worked out how I could do this same thing with my novel.
SIMPLIFYING A TANGLED STORY
1. Identify the main threads of the story – the ones that will sustain it to the end – and make them strong, clear and memorable.
2. Identify threads that don’t seem to be going anywhere and either wind them into the main part of the story or chop them out.
3. Just like the vine and the obelisk, everything in the story needs to be ultimately heading in the one direction – towards the pinnacle or climax of the novel.
4. The dead wood needs to be cut from the story.
5. Clear the clutter so the characters and the story have a chance to bloom.
Do you find you write overcomplicated plots or stories with threads that aren’t really going anywhere?
How do you overcome this?
Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments section of this post.