Too much plot makes stories tedious to read. Hence, the authors aim to avoid over-plotting as much as possible. But where is the line supposed to be drawn?
Once authors begin writing their stories, trying to stop them is futile.
They enter this zone where nothing else is left but the materials that record their narratives and the ideas ceaselessly pouring out of their minds. To the extremes, some may even forget to do anything else and entertain anyone being too focused on the characters and settings they’re weaving together.
This is the magic of being an author, passionate about their craft. But, at the same time, this can also be detrimental to the narratives they’re creating.
When Authors Are in Too Deep, They Often Forget Their Limits
Writing stories is similar to talking and holding conversations. Aside from the fact that these are carried out primarily through words, they also have tedium points people must consider – the point through which the activity becomes boring or the material monotonous.
Like talking, too much information lumped into a single story makes it overwhelming. It’s like listening to someone going on and on about something without making sense. The story becomes borderline confusing, as much as it would’ve been entertaining if it provided a few points less.
Plotting or brainstorming for a novel can be a weird experience.
On the one hand, authors can have trouble coming up with even a single event for their story, writers’ block, as they all call it. But once these ideas start coming, they may become unstoppable – like water rushing out of a dam. When this happens, notable details get easily mixed up with pointless, extra ideas. Before authors know it, their novels end up over-plotted and chaotic.
Nobody wants to read a story that jumps from one incident after another, dumping readers with multiple conflicts to keep things interesting. Readability and cementing a point are two reasons why authors should avoid over-plotting. But above everything else, they must limit themselves to keep readers focused on their stories.
What Can Authors Do to Avoid Over-Plotting?
The authors most susceptible to over-plotting are those with a long and extensive storyline planned. Authors like Kenneth J. Sousa, who’s written a trilogy set in the fictional realm of Atlantis, can quickly lose their grip around their story’s flow, excited with the limitless possibilities within their grasp.
With the ample space, a trilogy or a series provides, authors might be enticed to cram more events believing they’d have enough time to unravel and resolve everything. Not to mention, they would also want to explore everything their magical world offers, unleashing a beast of ideas to shower throughout their stories.
However, these authors can also bite more than they can chew.
To avoid over-plotting, here are some points to take note of:
Put a Limitation on the Characters to Use
The number of characters is vital in every story. Some authors might deem it beneficial for their stories’ arcs and conflicts to have as many characters contribute to the progression, while others might prefer limiting their figures. Either way, it’s basic logic to follow that the higher this number is, the higher their chances of having too much plotline throughout their books.
Labeling and separating these characters as main and extras is also useful. This helps authors segregate which characters need to be focused on, given depth and background stories. Although a book might have ten characters, if most of these aren’t “main characters,” the volume won’t contribute to over-plotting.
To avoid over-plotting, authors must remember that each main character must have a conflict-centric problem, influencing the number of events necessary in the story.
Explain the General Plot in One Sentence
A perfectly plotted story can be summarized into a single sentence. This must already cover everything from the conflicts to the resolution. If authors need quite a number of paragraphs to explain the plot, this might signify a need to reduce the points tackled.
This is also an excellent basis to start the story. Authors are increasing their chances of avoiding over-plotting by establishing a single-sentenced summary and strictly sticking to it throughout the process. Sticking to a simplified outline and general plot also helps tie in and avoid loose connections throughout the book.
If Planning a Series, Each Book Must Cover a Single Conflict
Books must be concise and straightforward, following the journey of a single conflict from its unveiling to its resolution. This is especially crucial for series, which readers must remember to proceed across each other smoothly. The more authors lump different conflicts across these books, the more confused and exhausted readers become from recalling and rereading the previous installments.
Like what Kenneth Sousa did throughout his trilogy, authors must remember only to maximize one conflict per book in a series. Avoiding over-plotting doesn’t have to be taxing and exhausting for authors. They can do so by simply cutting unnecessary points from the story and streamlining the core conflicts relevant and significant to the story’s progress.
By sticking to the simplest form of a story, authors avoid over-plotting and confusing their readers, which takes away the fun of reading.