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Does anybody know a good book on writing novels that covers complex storyweaving, multiplots, or parallel plotting? I have a large collection of how-to-write manuals for screen and novel writing. Somehow, they all seem to focus on linear plots.

The best resource I found is part 4 of Linda Aronson's brilliant book, "The 21st Century Screenplay."

Aronson breaks down the different types of parallel narratives: linear (without time jumps), non-linear (with time jumps), tandem narrative, flashback narrative, etc. She also explains why and how these structures work for certain stories.

Reading Aronson was an eye-opener, but it's all about film. All the examples provided are from movies and a film is not a book. Not all of her solutions will necessarily work in prose and multiplotting in prose presents unique challenges, such as maintaining reader engagement, which may not be as prominent in films.

Therefore, I am still searching.

Does anyone have any tips?

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  • TIL Mona Simpson is an actual person and not just Homer Simpson's mother.
    – F1Krazy
    Jun 25, 2023 at 12:06
  • Your question has quite a few opinions expressed as facts that distract from what you are asking about. I think you'll get better answers, if you edit you question so it focuses on what you want help understanding.
    – EDL
    Jun 26, 2023 at 4:03
  • Hi EDL, thank you, I edited my question.
    – thinkboxer
    Jun 26, 2023 at 10:07

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Books on writing focus on a single plot since they are focused on individuals learning to write novels. Complex structures like multiple plot lines and parallel story telling are permutations of the single plot with a twist.

They may seem different but I think that is because they are ordered in their presentation to the reader to maximize one or more impacts on the reader like tension, suspense or dramatic irony. Sometimes it seems like the author is just changing to another thread to frustrate the reader by delaying the conclusion of a big moment in the story.

While "Save The Cat Writes a Novel" does have some hints about using multiple threads to structure your novel, I can recall a single book on writing that has mentioned how to handle that subject. I suspect that is because there isn't any specific method to create a story like that. That each story is unique. So each approach is unique to the author and how they think and how their imagination works. Just like Gordon Ramsey said, "Cooks follow recipes, Chef create." I think the same applies to writers -- no recipes, just endless creativity.

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