30 January 2017

How to Immediately Over-complicate a Story

Do you like a simple story? Something straightforward, completely linear, no fuss, no muss? Well, this post may not be for you! But stick around for some exciting information and maybe you, too, can come up with a ridiculously complicated story before you even write the first word!

Ok, so maybe that's not a great selling point. But over-complicating a story is just kinda what I do. What's unusual this time is that I haven't even started writing it yet.

So getting a new story idea could not come at a worse time for me. I really just want to be working on my third draft for UL, and I've got a lot of anthology nonsense to work on. I just do not have time to be working on something new, or even something different. But the universe had other plans, because I just got a shiny new story idea. And boy, is it shiny! Meaning:terribly distracting.

I actually got this story idea from a dream I had last week. There were two characters who were in an interesting situation, and when I thought about it afterwards, it was like: "Huh. Now why would they be in this situation? What has led up to it? Where do they go from here?" And so I kept thinking. And before I knew it, a plot started rapidly unfolding. The beginning of the story wasn't completely clear, but the middle and end seemed pretty solid, and actually, exciting. I couldn't stop thinking about it (SHINY!!!).

Here's where it gets complicated. Based on the whole interesting-thing-about-my-characters'-relationship-that-makes-me-want-to-know-more-and-hopefully-the-readers-too factor, I know my story actually has to start in the middle. Why? Ok, I'll break it down. Basically one of main characters begins the story by telling the reader that he has two secrets. I'm thinking one of the secrets gets revealed during the first chapter. The other secret, however, I want to keep from the reader until maybe halfway through the book. I'll drop hints, of course, but I want there to be a reveal and have them go, "WAIT. WHAT?" Because why not??

So there's that. So basically the secret happens before the book even begins. I'm thinking there will need to be some flashbacks to explain how my characters got to this point. But that's not the only thing that makes it complicated. I know I have to have two POV characters. I really dislike doing it in most cases and try to pick a character to be the narrator, but in this case, I really think it has to be two. During some of the more suspenseful moments, my characters are split up, so you'll have to know what's going on with each of them. Plus one of my characters has a very complicated past and I know that will be the focus of most of his flashbacks. The other character doesn't really know that much about it but it will be important to the story.

So: two different POVs. Plus flashbacks. For both of them. Sounds easy, right? I don't know why I do these things to myself. But it's soooooooo shiny...


  1. Not easy at all. I'm not afraid to admit it - I like simple and straightforward. Good luck!

  2. Good luck with that! I always make things difficult by deciding to change character motivation in the middle of the story. Then I leave a bunch of notes of what I want to change and ignore when I'm editing because I don't want to work that hard at the moment.

  3. Love the sound of it. That's the kind of situation I get myself into too :-)

  4. I always love that "WAIT WHAT?" moment when I'm reading. (I aim to put in my writing as well, but I never know if I've succeeded.)

    And from the sounds of it, I'm glad you've decided to do the two POVs, so the reader knows what's going on with both characters, without having to hear about it secondhand later on. That always irks me greatly.

    Have fun with the shiny new story idea—I bet you'll find it comes easily. :)

  5. I love the idea of the character having two secrets and readers have to wait for the second one. I want to read it now! :P

  6. That does sound complicated. I always seem to get a shiny new idea when I'm in the middle of another project.

  7. "Shiny new thing" happens to all of us. Write your shiny ideas down on paper to save them for later, but be sure to get back to UL and finish it!