So a lot of you authors out there are saying: what’s wrong with that? Nothing, of course.
However, as an avid reader and an author, I enjoy complexity in my reads. I also almost insist that anything I write (beyond short story length) be of some moderate complexity. You see, I enjoy reading through a selection and then having to think ‘how does this affect plotline A?’ or ‘where does this fit with character X’s background and his/her current motivations?’.
There are plenty of examples of well-known authors that can get away with a linear, single-plot story. So like I said, nothing really wrong with it. But to me, a complex storyline with multiple subplots shows me that the author sat and really thought about the story that he/she was trying to tell. It also tells me that they are capable of thinking on multiple levels, if even at least when creating the structure of their work. Lastly, it tells me that they’ve gone away from using a formula to derive their work.
Don’t get me wrong; if you can pump out 3-5 novels a year using a formulaic approach – more power to you. I don’t hold that against you; nay, I applaud you because that’s something I can’t force myself to do. To be sure, there are some very high profile authors that have gone on to write an entire series using the formula approach. Perhaps the key there is ‘series’. Within the same series, the formula method makes more sense. Otherwise, in this author’s humble opinion – it becomes predictable; and who wants that in a read? If you’ve figured out how to avoid predictability – great job!
On the other hand, I’ve yet to read a complex novel that followed any set formula outside of itself (sequels, prequels, etc). I personally don’t see how it would be possible to create multiple layers inside of a story and then use that same formula in a separate work – and be successful without being repetitive or derivative.
When I set about writing the novel adaptation (it used to be written as a comic book) of the Epsilon Series, the layered approach is precisely the method that I followed. I wrote it as a reader first, and then as an author (and then, sadly, an editor). I’m following the same method for Book 2, and I can say that I’ve spent the past few weeks doing nothing but working on the outline to ensure that I haven’t missed anything. Yes, it’s that complex.
But back to the original point – my short story. It’s entitled ‘Homecoming’ and you’ll most likely see it soon in eBook-only format, and for free I would assume. It’s a SciFi tale with an element of Horror (would have been just in time for Halloween, but frankly I just didn't have the time to get it out there) in it (might even be a zombie, who knows?). But the one thing you will notice above all else (especially if you have read Epsilon Book 1: Clarity) is that it’s not complex at all.
So here’s to you authors that are out there weaving away; twisting your plotlines into one, coherent, fantastic tale. As a reader, I salute you and look forward to reading your finished work. As an author, I tip my hat.