Juggling (Writing Tip #54)

Writing a novel is a juggling act. I've come to understand that even more so as I work on book two of a four-book series. As an author, you have to juggle a variety of storylines, choosing which one to devote a paragraph or a page or a chapter to. It can start to feel overwhelming as more storylines pop up and more characters make their entrance.
One way I try to keep track of the storylines in this novel I'm working on is to have a page of the major stories in the book. When I get a dry erase board for my office, I'll write them all out so I can see them all the time. Right now I have eleven major storylines. "Newfound friend named Jared--ally." Stuff like that. Simple overviews to remind me not to forget THIS particular part of the story.

With a large novel and especially with a series, it's easy to pile storyline on top of storyline. The hard thing to figure out is how to balance it all out. The novel I'm working on is my second teen suspense, so I'm balancing the supernatural elements with the teen saga with the secrets and the romance.

Even though there are hundreds of books out there on plotting and writing a novel, this is part of the process that's very intuitive. I really equate it to juggling. At one moment you're holding the chainsaw, the next you're holding the bowling pin, the next you're holding the beanbag.

I believe the more you read and the more you write helps you with this juggling. You see how others do it, for better or worse, and you absorb the techniques. You don't always get it right. That's why you rewrite. That's also why you need an editor.

Don't let this juggling seem too daunting. You always start to learn with the tennis balls and then gradually start adding heavier objects. Nobody learns after just a few tries. It takes a lot of practice. A lot. But it's fun to do. Especially when you get the hang of it.

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