Through lines

by Rachel

Question: This website has been very helpful to me, however, I'm still a little confused about through lines. I know there should be 4, the overall, main character, impact character and relationship.

My question is, if I have 3 plot goals such as external conflict, internal conflict and relationship conflict, would I plot out an overall through line for each? Or is the external conflict considered the overall, the internal conflict considered the main character and the relationship conflict considered the last relationship through line?

Thanks in advance!

Answer: The latter is correct.

The Story Goal is part of the overall throughline. Even if every character does not share the protagonist's concern with that specific goal, most of the characters will have a similar concern. (For instance, if he wants to marry a specific girl, some characters might also want to marry her, or they may be wanting to marry a different girl, or they may want other people to marry, or they may be against marriage, etc.) This is the throughline that concerns external conflict.

The Main Character's will also have a personal concern that he/she will explore in the Main Character throughline, and this will be the story of his/her inner conflict.

Ditto with the Impact Character's concern and throughline, which is the story of his/her influence on the main character or story world. The impact character generally has his/her own concern to wrestle with, and watching the impact character's approach to this problem gives the main character an example of a different way he might resolve his own concern.

Finally, the Relationship throughline will also have a concern. If the main and impact characters together constitute a "we," then this is the arc in which "we" struggle with a problem between "us." It's an interpersonal conflict, if you like.

I hope that's not too confusing. It's four arcs, and the main character is what connects them to make one story.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.