The story I'm currently writing is a framed story where a recurring-depression-suffering writer that lost his wife [killed] in a war tells his life story in a symbolical fantasy world. Throughout the story, he doesn't just show the sub-story protagonist having his wife killed, but also going into a journey to revive her, how was his relation to her since they met for the first time, along with a symbolically precise view of how the writer feels when with his depression. He would also have the option to go in another journey to either revenge his wife's death or just "take measures" in some way. It would also show the moments before, during and after the moment when the writer lost his wife (in the "real" world).

So the story has 5 big subjects in the same story: the writer's life, the writer's relation (romance) with his wife, the writer's wishes (the sub-story protagonist's two journeys), and the writer's depression, in which all five will be written in depth.

Now I ask: is a single story, having 5 deep subjects, "too crowded" or "too unfocused"? If yes, is it that bad? Because if I remove his romance, there wouldn't be a reason for the public to care for his wife; if I remove his life, the setting would be shallow; if I remove his depression symbolism, it would be a great opportunity lost and would yank a very good big content from the story; if I remove his wishes, the story would end just after he loses his wife.

So, in this case, what would you guys say about this?

  • If one removes the unnecessary "writer's life" aren't there 3 "subjects", of the writer's life, being told in the story? Jan 13, 2017 at 17:52
  • Of the five, the one that worries me a bit is the topic of depression. It can be depressing to read about that. Also, when one is depressed, everything slows down. If you write about that realistically, it could really bog things down. So my suggestion would be to give that one less air time than the others. Perhaps the depression could be analogous to an off-camera character that is part of the story but with the audience getting few opportunities to actually see him. Jan 15, 2017 at 22:45
  • @aparente001 Well, as it's a recurring depression, there will be times of normality, and it will be in such times that most of the action would happen. But when he is depressive, I thought of "compressing" the time, so that it doesn't get too boring.
    – Yuuza
    Jan 15, 2017 at 23:09
  • Maybe you could treat those periods as black holes, and rejoin the character afterwards. But you could give a few scenes of depression, to function as snapshots, to give the reader an idea what it was like -- without going too blow by blow. Jan 15, 2017 at 23:21

3 Answers 3


You can have as many subjects as you like; you can only have one story arc. Or, at least, you can only have one story arc per character. Do all of these aspects of the protagonist's life contribute to the story arc? Do they inform his desire or frustrate his achievement of his desire? If yes, do they do so in a fashion that builds the overall arc of tension? It's not about how many pieces you have, it is about how well they are coordinated to create a satisfying story arc.


It seems to me that the 5 subjects are tightly related aspects of a single, complex character. It's hard to tell from a summary, but it sounds rich and cohesive to me.


Agreeing with @Dale, I was already hooked on your plot or idea, and to me the complexity and interwovenness could make the entire thing come together in a great way, if executed in a manner that doesn't confuse the reader.

I myself have not read many books, but I think this would make for a story that many could relate to. And the multiple 'deep subjects' is logical for the way we live our lives and create dream-scenarios or alternative paths in our real or imaginary lives.

I say go!

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