How many subplots at once is too many?

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Thread: How many subplots at once is too many?

  1. #1
    Brock's Pikachu LightningTopaz's Avatar Moderator
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    Default How many subplots at once is too many?

    So currently, I have two plotlines going in "The Journeys of the Red Star":

    --See the seer that lives on Mt. Baiyin (the counterpart of Mt. Silver in the story's world) to learn the locations of the jeweled shrines (main plot)
    --save ten apprentice priests and mikos from a band of evil cultists. (subplot)

    Would three simultaneous plotlines (because I want the party to have another adventure in the final town before the wilderness leading to the mountain) be too many?
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    Moderator AceTrainer14's Avatar Forum Head
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    Default Re: How many subplots at once is too many?

    I have like ten subplots going on through Galactic at any given time with some that don't go addressed for several episodes. It depends on what you can handle as a writer and how complex they are, and if the third subplot would contribute something to the story rather than filling in time/space

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    Hex Mistress NoirGrimoir's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many subplots at once is too many?

    I think a third subplot isn't a problem. You probably actually already have more than that going on and just haven't realized it because it fits so neatly in with, and is dependent upon, all the other things happening. Characters' personal/transformative journeys are subplots as well. There really only starts to be a problem when you have so many independent things going on that you have to leave significant characters and events hanging for excessive periods of time to go talk about something else that's happening. ("And now we leave Johnny as he's about to fall into a volcano with seemingly no means of escape to talk about Miria!")

    Epic fantasies tend to have problems with this especially, since they tend to jump around and talk about what this villain is doing, and that that other villain here who the main villain think is his lackey but actually has his own agenda, and then we have to talk about this party member who got captured by pirates and how he charms them into releasing them, and then we have to talk about this other girl who was following the main hero but got dumped in town and meets a prince in disguise who will be important later, etc., etc. So just don't fall into that trap and you should be fine. If it's like we've forgotten what the character was even doing by the time we get back to them then there is a serious problem.

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    Requiem Raver Drakon's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many subplots at once is too many?

    There really is no hard and fast rule. The key issue is can you keep track of them and make sure they don't eat the main plot of the story.
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    Reader and Writer Legacy's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many subplots at once is too many?

    I agree. No right or wrong answer as long as you can handle them all as an author and the reader is not bombarded.

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    ^^ Safe-T's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many subplots at once is too many?

    I think there should always be many sub-plots at one time, I mean a single main plot gets redundant and losses appeal when there aren't any twists and turns with other plots which would inevitably keep the reader gripped.

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    Ms. Canadian Destroyer Caite-chan's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many subplots at once is too many?

    I have to go with everyone else on this. But the way I see it you can have as many as you'd like as long as: A. You can keep track of all of your sub-plots and B. You don't confuse the reader. Because it all may sound good to you in your head but if we the reader get lost or confused with so much going on then you're in trouble. We won't want to read if we can't keep up with everything that's going on.

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    Brock's Pikachu LightningTopaz's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: How many subplots at once is too many?

    Okay--I think I can go ahead with an adventure in the town while still juggling my other plotlines.
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