I have too many holes in my story

Question: How can I fill in the gaps of my story? I have the major characters figured out and I know where each book in my eight book series needs to end - mostly. I also have a few episodes and major sub-climaxes played out in my mind but I don't have a way to bring it all together.

Answer: Remember that dramatica theory is recursive. You can apply it to an entire series or to individual books.

It sounds like you have your overarching plot for the entire series well in hand. If you know what has to happen in each book, in terms of the overall series plot, see if you can also identify or create a story goal for each book. What are the characters trying to do/achieve/resolve such that, in the course of pursuing the book goal, they will arrive at the point you want them to be in the series plot.

Each book needs a unique story goal to make it interesting and distinct from the rest of the series.

Once you know the goal for a particular book, you can apply the same principles to create a complete plot for that book. Each book needs its own dramatic structure, its own beginning, complications, climax, and resolution. Apply the 8 Elements of Plot to each book individually, as well as to the series as a whole.

A few thoughts to bear in mind...

You may want to concentrate on one book at a time. Start with the first. Now that you know how the other books will fit into the series, you can flesh them out later. If you are lucky enough to sell or publish the first book, then write the second. But you may not want to invest too much effort writing an entire series if the first book doesn't work out.

The plot for an individual book will likely involve a somewhat different set of characters than the series plot. Some characters may be involved throughout the series, but their roles may be a little different in individual books. For instance, the Guardian in the series plot could be the Reason character in a book plot. Your main character for the series might play only a minor role in the first book (though this is rare).

Some characters will only appear in one book, for instance an antagonist who gets defeated in the same book where he's introduced, while the series antagonist lurks in the shadows.

And, naturally, you will want to introduce new major characters in each book, because that makes each book more interesting.

(Another question to consider: when do you introduce the major series characters? Maybe the series protagonist enters in book 1, but the series contagonist doesn't appear until book 5, etc.)

Most likely, the final book of your series will be focused on the overall series goal, as you bring the series to its climax and resolution. But it may take some time for the characters to reach the point where they can take this goal on. In the early books, the series plot may only be touched on.

For instance, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the book goal is to prevent the Philosopher's stone from being stolen. In the course of pursuing that goal, Harry is introduced to Voldemort and their special relationship is established, which marks the start of the series plot (which is about revenge). The villain of the first book (Quirrel) is defeated, but Voldemort lives to see another day.

Also bear in mind that not every goal must be achieved. Sometimes a failure or setback can take the characters to the right point, and sometimes successfully attaining the goal for a particular book can cause a setback in the quest for the series goal. Think about middle stories like The Empire Strikes Back, The Two Towers, or Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (if you're an SF&F fan).

Comments for I have too many holes in my story

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Aug 03, 2011
by: Anonymous

That was a help. I guess I do just need to focas on one book at a time, that way it won't be so overwhelming for me. Thanks again!

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