Too Many Plots #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Too Many Plots

What happens when you have too many plots? Paralysis sets in, and your writing freezes. Here’s one way to fix that.

One of the side effects of Covid-19 is the feeling that you’re drifting. One day is like another, and it’s easy to postpone writing until tomorrow. Or next Tuesday. Or not write at all. I thought I’d overcome writing paralysis because I’m retired, and postponing tasks is easy to do.

too many plots


Then came Covid-19. My small world shrank further. No visiting, no outside activities, no club meetings. Why care about writing?

During the last week of June, a FB post caught my eye—what have you accomplished during quarantine? Other than starting a sourdough and cooking more, I answered “not much”. With that sad result staring me in the face, I resolved to write every day in July. Not exactly Camp NaNo, but I have a fourth book in a series that had stalled.

On July 1st, with grim determination, I opened my Scrivener file and started writing. Amazingly, my story took off. A few days later, the good times crashed to a stop. Subplot #1 had taken over.

What Happens When You Have Too Many Plots?


Subplot #1, a threat to my MC’s family, pushed aside the main plot, a demon returning from the dead. Five thousand new words later, I’d lost the main plot.

I moved the subplot to Book Five, where it competed with another subplot I’d planned. Should I move it back to Four? Where did it belong?too many plots

Scrivener Jenga had to stop. I pulled out a legal pad and listed the main and sub plots for books four, five, and six. Then I listed their importance (1=important, 5=minor) to the overall series arc, a step that clarified each book’s priorities. After that, I had no problem deciding where each plot belonged. (Book Five is still a little dicey).

Sometimes, when you have too many plots, you have to go back to basics—paper and pen—to find answers.

p.s. I’m writing faster because now I have a more detailed outline, and I don’t have to second guess my scenes.

p.p.s. I’ll have news on the release of Book One, Schnoztopia, soon.

This post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop.  Click here to join the hop or follow #AuthorToolboxBlogHop on Twitter to learn more writing tips.


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4 Responses to Too Many Plots #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

  1. Yes, I absolutely go back to pen and paper when it comes to things like timelines and balancing subplots. Great post, Cheryl. I haven’t done the sourdough starter yet, but wow, you should see all the gardens I’ve got going. 🙂

  2. JQ Rose says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience with too many subplots. You make a good point here. Plus trying to wind up all the loose ends to form a satisfying conclusion to all the plots can be difficult. Congrats on your upcoming release and for forging on with the series.!
    JQ Rose

  3. Sadira Stone says:

    Hear, hear! When bamboozled by my plot and characters, I pull out my journal and noddle longhand for a while. That always clarifies things. Good post!

  4. Susan Kite says:

    I have a notebook for many different occasions. While my advancing arthritis make writing more difficult, sometimes ideas seem to straighten themselves out when laid out on a writing pad. Thanks for the recommendations!

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