Boy meets Girl. They fall in love. Trouble comes in unexpectedly. They solve it definitively. Everyone lives happily ever after.
Boy meets Girl. They live in Parallel Universes. They are unaware of time differences. Then a bullet is shot from one universe to the other. There is a criminal conspiracy spanning across ages. There is Time travel that will require nuances. Finally a sequence is triggered that will solve all existences. And everyone continues life as they know it/ or not.
What do I mean when I say a Complex Story?
Complexity can take many forms.
- Stories with emotional complexity. These are mostly character driven, where the actions of the character based on a range of emotions, helps establish a connect with the audience.
- Stories with a complex plot. Here normally a set of mutually exclusive events come together and drive the characters to a fanciful end.
- Stories with a complex world. Here the new world imagined, dictates the actions of the characters within as well as influences the plot.
There could be many more forms.
This article talks about how one could go about creating a complex plot / world based story, and this is purely based on my journey of creating such a story.
Why do I say - First Story?
Because the manner in which I am writing my second story of this nature is different from my first.
The first was a learning experience for me. I had no clue to how to go about it. There were many unknowns.
- How does one create his own writing style?
- How much needs to be thought before I go about writing the story?
- How does one handle small things/ events/ moves conceived later?
Only once I dealt with the complexity, did certain things become clear to me. For instance identifying how your character spends his day irrespective of its mention in the story can become handy later for subtle twists.
Sure, had I read a few books on how to write a story, I may have known this beforehand, but only when I struggled with certain things did I realize the true worth of detailing a character.
In hindsight, there is no harm to get few tips but let them not control you in any way. JUST WRITE!
Here are my tips for writing your first complex story.
Find and Believe in your Pivot: A complex plot is driven by a pivot in your mind. This pivot inspires you to imagine the whole story. This pivot appeals to every inch of your mind and body and motivates you throughout. This pivot remains constant even if the rest of the story changes. Pivot is non-negotiable and just cannot be altered. The pivot could be anything, it could be an ending (which was the case for me), a story path, an object, a concept. Let me give you popular example of some pivots.
- ‘One Ring to Rule them all’. You can imagine this would have been the pivot in the mind of the author. Once the author had this Ring as his pivot, he chose to define ‘All’ as a race of people, elves, hobbits, dwarfs etc. He created a new world in which these people are inhabited, a language which they spoke in, a dynamic between the different races. The ‘Ring’ stayed constant throughout and the world lived and died around it.
- ‘A General who became a slave, a slave who became a Gladiator, a Gladiator who defied an emperor’. This comes from the Gladiator movie. These words are actually spoken during the movie. Once you hear something like this, you quickly understand that this journey was quite possibly the pivot in the mind of the writer.
- ‘The Boy who Lived’. I wonder sometimes what exactly was in J.K Rowling’s mind when she conceived Harry Potter. It quite possibly could have been this one line, which is repeated quite a few times throughout the series. The things is…it’s almost impossible for a writer to at one go to think about friends, Horcruxes, magic spells, Hogwarts, Quidditch etc. But you can imagine the line, and imagine the boy had to be special. A special boy would need parents, guardians and protectors, who would have to special. He would need a villain equally special.
Write those portions first that you know need to happen: If you try and write the complex story in a linear, chapter by chapter manner, it’s likely to be a difficult exercise. You need to create a puzzle for your own mind. Write the portions that you can see happen and then figure how the portions connect with each other. Accept there are going to be changes before it all makes sense.
- I wrote the end first.
- Then I wrote the entry points for three characters which were immediately clear to me (Central Male, Central Female, Villain)
- Then I wrote how the central Male and Female characters meet, how the new world influences this meeting.
- Then I realized I needed a character which helps the central male character and created him.
- And so on…
Stick to Logic: The characters you create, the world you create, should act and behave in a certain manner. Should one change the character or the world, so as to connect the different portions of the story you have written? Or should their actions logically lead to the portions you have written. This can get very tricky. My advice is to think carefully about the characters and world you create. Once you like them and believe in them, then let their personalities dictate as far as possible the sequence of events. For instance if you create a strong personality, then making his actions weak at your convenience spoils everything.
Point of View (POV): One needs to understand the types of POV's that are possible. I understood this quite late and this can make a dramatic difference to the way you tell your story. Writing a complex story from a one person POV is very difficult, think about this carefully - for the first cut maybe use the Author's POV.
Find your writing style: Write from your heart, let it reflect who you are in a sense. If you are an angry personality, let the words show it. If you are intense, then let that be the case. I feel it helps you stay motivated and perhaps once you do feel you have found your writing style, you can challenge yourself to come up with more styles.
Your First cut story doesn’t need to be very big: Here I was inspired by Orson Scott Card, who wrote a short story which people liked and eventually wrote a multiple series based on it. My first version was little over 50 pages.
Note: This is purely my understanding of how to write difficult stories. I have not read many books on story writing/ telling etc. This is just based on my first book The Trial of 2091 (www.thetrialof2091.com) which is due for release soon.