Crisscrossing (Writing Tip #45)

Writing a novel is about juggling and merging several storylines. There is usually one main story happening, but there might be half a dozen minor stories occurring as well. The difficult part of writing fiction is being able to merge these stories together in an interesting and engaging way.

Let me tell you something if you don't already know this. It's hard work.
I'm 52,000 words into a novel. There is one main story, but at least ten minor stories as well. It's being told from a first-person standpoint, so all those stories revolve around my main character. The difficult part is juggling all of this, not forgetting one storyline for too long, not going on about another story too long, making sure the stakes continue to get raised, and on and on.

How do you learn how to effectively crisscross your stories?

Trial and error. And error. And error.

This is where editors help immensely.

I feel an author should tackle something that is almost too big for him. If they're fortunate to finish it, then they'll have to go back and edit and rewrite and rework. You never get it right the first time.

The juggling act is the one part of writing fiction that can't always be taught. I feel authors go by instinct, by their gut. The more they read and the more they get edited, the more they learn how to crisscross different storylines.

Part of the struggle and the payoff in writing fiction is to tackle a big novel where the storylines all come together in the end. It takes a lot of time, hard work, skill, and luck. And that's before you hand it in to the publisher.

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