Double plot structure?

by Amy
(Edinburgh, Scotland)

Hello, firstly, I just have to say thank you very much for creating this website. It has helped me so much in my writing development and has also helped me escape my writer's block.

Now, my story has developed into a miniseries about a group of young adults in a mental health care centre. They meet in group therapy, where the Psychologist assigns them the task of talking about their issues through fictional storytelling. They can dress up their issues throughout their story as much as they wish, as the psychologist will know what has really happened to them.

My idea is to have them each tell their story in their own way (genre), so each book will be different, but they will slowly include the group members as characters in their tales (relating to their growing relationships). My personal goal is to leave the reader speculating on which events are reality or non-reality.

So, my issue is that because I am trying to do stories within a story, should I create a plot outline for the overall series, each individual story or both? When I try to plot the series as a whole I tend to get confused on the Forewarnings.

Again thank you very much for your help.

Answer: First, I just want to say that I think you have an interesting concept.

I'm not sure if this series would
work best as a novel series or an anthology of short stories. An anthology might allow you to develop the overall story arc within the one volume.

Either way, I would suggest you plot both the fictional backstories and the overall "reality" story. Developing the overall story will help draw readers into the rest of the series.

(I'm a little curious what the overall story is about. Is the main character the psychologist, who is trying to piece together the puzzle contained in the backstories, or perhaps solve a mystery?)

At any rate, a forewarning is something that happens that suggests that consequence is getting closer and that the story might be heading towards a tragic outcome.

For instance, if the story goal were to solve the mystery, then you would want a consequence that could happen if the goal is not reached. For instance, perhaps a crime will occur. A forewarning might be the antagonist achieving a small victory, silencing an opponent, or moving closer to executing his plan.

In a story like yours, if the individual backstories have tragic outcomes (which obviously they do since the characters end up in hospital) then those outcomes could constitute forewarnings of what will happen in the overall story if the villain is not stopped.

Of course, I'm making assumptions about your story here that may not apply, just as an example.

Best of luck.

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