Problems Weaving Multiple Plotlines

by Hamza
(Adelaide, Australia)

Dear Glen,

I am writing a story about a suicidal young mortician who talks to the dead in his head. He gets conned by his boss, a guru like character, into loving life again.

I have really good stories for the dead people that talk to the younger mortician, but they are stories leading up to their death where they meet the young mortician.

How can I weave the dead people's stories into the young morticians' without allowing them to take him off the stage as a protagonist?

Or would it be more appropriate to write an ensemble piece showing each of the dead people as a POV character in their own story, but when dead and in the presence of the mortician, use them as impact or supporting characters?

Thanks for all your immense help.

Response: Honestly, you could do it either way, but there are questions to be answered first.

You will need to decide who is the real impact character. Is it the boss or the ensemble of dead voices? What is the goal? And who is the real antagonist?

Is this a story of how the young man's life is saved from his obsession with death? What effect do these dead voices have on him? Are they feeding his worst impulses or are they trying to save him?

What decision will he make at the climax, and will it be the right one? That will determine the message of your story.

After that, you have lots of leeway to decide the balance between the main character's and the ghosts' stories. You can choose according to what is most interesting to you and the reader.

You can have the young man's story as a bare frame to hold essentially an anthology of tales that may have a common theme, or you can make the book all about him with just enough of the ghosts' stories for them to play a role in his life.

I can't tell you what's more appropriate because this is something that all depends you and how you execute your ideas. You have to follow your instincts.

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