I think I discovered something.
As some of you know, I’m writing a 13-part series. At present, I’m plotting book 5. Now, this series is multi-faction noir: think a far future Game of Thrones type story (no magic) with mobsters. I have the series plotted in broad strokes as far as what the MC and major factions are doing, and have a series storyform already set.
I’ve chosen a close first-person narration, and something I realized while writing book 4 was that there were actually two levels in the story:
- what the MC sees and
- what’s going on behind the scenes with the crime families and other various factions.
What I realized while reading this thread is that if you’re this far into one person’s POV (in this case, the MC), that the MC Throughline is almost indistinguishable to the audience from the OS.
So in this case, the situation is:
- one overarching storyform for the series (can’t think of a better term for this)
- with two storyforms for each book in the series:
A. the signpost or journey of the overarching storyform you’re in (what’s really going on),
B. what the MC is seeing
I’ve found this useful to tease out the motivations and actions of the other characters considering where they are in the overarching storyform for the series. This is especially helpful if the book has a different IC than your overarching storyform does, which was true in book 4 and it turns out is true in book 5.
I’ve struggled with how to implement this, though. With book 4, I discovered this idea of multiple storyforms during revision, but now with book 5, I have an outline to write! And for this one, other than how it starts, a few major points, and how it ends, I was drawing a blank.
So I began with the MC. If I look at the overarching storyform, right now at the signpost she’s at, her concern is Obtaining. So since as far as the audience is concerned, the OS = the MC throughline, I put the OS Concern to Obtaining.
(that’s the key)
Then all I had to do (because I know the kind of story I’m writing: a Failure/Bad with a Steadfast character, etc.) is to tweak the storyform until it matched what I envisioned.
Now I have the Signposts and Journeys set up, which is a big help in deciding what to put where.
Only then do I approach the big picture: what are all the factions up to? That is the underlying/hidden storyform (“hidden” because the OS = MC throughline as far as the audience is concerned). This hidden storyform is determined by the Signpost or Journey I’m in for the overarching story.
Now right now, everyone (including the MC - remember, this is what’s really going on) has a Concern of The Past. So I set up a new storyform with a Concern of The Past, and off we go!
The only objection I can find to doing this is that the MC type orders don’t match. But I’m approaching this as if they both apply - yes, she’s concerned about Obtaining, but it has very much to do with what happened in The Past. As it turns out, this gives even more structure and help when plotting!
I don’t know if anyone else is attempting anything as complicated as what I’m doing, but I thought this might be helpful to anyone writing a close first-person narration story who’s feeling confused with their storyform. Approach it as if there’s two layers of story and how to proceed should hopefully become clearer.