Last week while researching the history of Lake Grapevine, a prominent setting in CLON-X, I stumbled upon a completely unrelated article posted by Angela Ackerman titled How Plotlines Add Dimension.
Quite frankly, I haven’t done much research on the subject of adding dimension to my plotlines, because this issue came naturally to me while writing Brainwash, the first novel in my Darcy McClain and Bullet Thriller Series.
A one-dimensional plotline would never have held my attention long enough to keep me at the computer, never mind bring me back to write more. The book’s storyline has to be multifaceted to satisfy my own love of problem solving. It’s akin to doing a puzzle. I thrive on complex plots, which is why I chose to write a technical and medical-themed series.
When I laid out my plotlines for Brainwash I began, as I often do, by choosing my technical, medical, or scientific topic first. My priority is to flesh out the topic as it’s the backbone of my techno-thrillers and usually the most difficult aspect of writing the book. A lot of research goes into any topic I settle on. To make future book research easier, I am constantly reading nonfiction material related to anything technical, scientific, or medical so I have a pulse on the next breakthrough.
In Brainwash, Darcy’s primary goal, i.e her “external journey,” is find Rio’s missing fiancé Johnny Duran. As for Darcy’s personal or “internal journey,” there is her ongoing conflict with her sister Charlene, who is twenty-years younger than Darcy. Complicating their relationship is the death of their parents, which leaves Darcy sole guardian of her sister.
Now that I had my key elements—tech or medical topic, Darcy’s external and internal journeys—I weaved the three into a multi-dimensional story.
In the series, Darcy’s “relationship story” centers on her plutonic feelings for Dan, her former partner at the FBI, and in a later novel, her close friendship with her best friend Sam, whom Darcy grew up with. In a future book, I will introduce Darcy’s first serious love interest and how that relationship develops and grows throughout the remaining novels in the series.
To date, my most complex plot was in Genocide, book three in the series. I wrote the first draft in 1990 and the novel had undergone extensive edits, but none by a professional editor until 2015. The book was published in 2017.
Because of the complexity of the plot, its scientific theme, and a cadre of characters, my “test readers” (also known as beta readers), suggested that I simplify the plot. Intimately familiar with both the plot and the characters, I had no problem keeping track of these elements, therefore I had no intention of dumbing down the storyline.
Instead, I hired a professional editor and left it to her to either agree or disagree with my beta readers’ assessment. Without any input from me regarding my test readers’ comments, my editor was free to make an unbiased decision. She had no problem following my complex plot or the many characters in the book. Then came the biggest test—my readers.
No one, according to the reviews or the personal remarks made directly to me, had any issues with the complex plot or the many characters. In fact, one of the most rewarding compliments I have ever received was: “Genocide is really four books in one when you look at the richness in the storylines and the fireworks at the end. I keep being amazed about all the topics Krapf has researched and talks so easily about in her books. She made a complex plot with a large cast of characters simple to understand and easy to follow.”