I write with threads. I take separate storylines, split them into threads and weave them together into chapters – it’s my style – While I acknowledge that from a reader’s perspective, it’s sometimes hard to jump from one set of characters to another (especially at the beginning of the book and particularly if that beginning was lengthy enough to have a reader want to settle in to stay), there are huge benefits to writing with threads.
First of all, that first jump can be handled in a way that makes it easier. Usually, for me as a reader, the first time it happens and I’m tossed out into some other scene, I admit, I don’t want to go there. If that first segment is short, however, it’s not so bad. First of all, I haven’t invested too much as yet to not want to move on, it’s more intriguing than frustrating. Second, the jump announces that this is the formula, that jumping from one group of characters to another is what to expect. That way there are no surprises.
So… okay, some people don’t like when it a story is woven with threads. They want a story to unfold with one character and to stay with that character, and that’s fair enough. It’s a style thing.
Advantages of running with threads are many. It keeps the pace up. You can ditch all the boring bits, such as when a character is forced to wait for something, or otherwise has time to fill, and jump from action scene to action scene. Balanced right, you can keep reader interest up: “NOW what’s going to happen? Can’t wait to find out!”
Other reasons why I like working with threads are plentiful.
If I’ve got one thread that just has to take its time, the surrounding ones can help the pace by keeping the excitement up in their parts of the story. Likewise, if I’ve got a very heavy section, a different thread alongside might lift it up a bit by being lighter, mood-wise.
In one of my books, at a certain section there were two quite heavy threads working side-by-side, making the whole quite bleak. I had a third thread in with them, but I wondered if, being frivolous, the third thread would clash rather than lift the two. It turned out to be exactly what was needed and stopped those chapters from becoming too heavy to be endured. So, as well as tell its own tale, one thread can help another.
Using threads also allows a writer to tell the tale from many angles. You can have more than one hero, more than one perspective. You can get your readers into more than one head and explore more than one attitude, allowing people to choose their own favorite characters rather than forcing upon them only one to follow.
Writing with threads has become my style and is essentially what gives my books added depth and complexity. I really love that – because when I’m in there, exploring and developing those threads, I feel like I’m the one having the adventure, that I’m the first one through the gate, as it were. I have a blast and find all sorts of interesting things, twists and turns and surprises. Then I just can’t wait to tell you about it – and another book is born…
The above is a revamp of an old post, but I wanted to present it again because it’s an interesting topic and fun to play with.
Happy writing, everybody!