Plotting and Subplotting, How do You do it?

Ever get surprised as several seemingly unrelated plot threads weave together into an amazing climax, where suddenly it all makes sense? I love those moments, rare and few. Whether it’s the villain’s plans, the hero’s mysterious past, or the real reason behind the whole story, these ‘aha’ and ‘wow’ moments make a good story phenomenal. Now that I’m writing, I wonder, how can I do likewise? And while I’m searching for this holy grail of storytelling, like the Nazi in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, I don’t want to choose unwisely and see my work crumble into obscurity.

My first attempt began as a series of concepts, all in the same neighborhood but not fully connected. I then worked to answer the ‘why’s’ that would link them together. Occasionally scenes wrote themselves outside my outline, only to serendipitously build a better plot.

But even then I ask myself, if I trudge through my story creation process chronologically, can I really expect to outwit my readers enough to keep them guessing or have I typed a tale so simple a child could unfold the plot before each twist and yawn during the biggest reveals?

Ever hear of those people who solve mazes by starting at the end and working their way backward? As I mulled over a new way to be clever, this paradigm shifting example excited me. Can I imagine the ending first and work my way back, thus making the surprises less predictable?

Much like my car, my imagination doesn’t race down ‘story-road’ at top speed, and my steering gets less reliable the faster I go. Sad to say, I got frustrated with the process before my mind’s motor got far from the driveway. Though I may revisit the notion, I’ve reverted to my old ways with only the slightest changes.

Ever notice how some subplots mirror the main plot but only on a more personal level? Star Trek, The Next Generation tended to do this often. As I write about it I’m less fascinated by it, but during STNG’s hay day, it kept me entertained on multiple levels.

I regularly bounce between toe tingling enthusiasm for writing, and feeling like a toddler trying to paint my family portrait with roller brush. Above all, I know I’ll never offer a plot twist that ends with the whole fantastic story like this…

It was all only a dream.

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