10b. Advanced Plotting: Checking multiple threads

Even if you’re telling the whole story from one character’s viewpoint, it’s a great idea to walk through the story from each character’s viewpoint.

This can highlight continuity errors, and also add dimensions to your characters.

For each character, make a note of the scenes they appear in, then walk through that list - ignoring the scenes they’re not in. Make sure their appearances make sense from their point of view, and then imagine what the character is doing while they’re not present in a scene.

This helps you avoid ‘teacher syndrome’ where pupils assume teachers only exist during school hours with the idea of them having lives of their own being quite unimaginable. By filling in the gaps in your character’s existence, you give them their own life and realistic motivations.

This can add flavour to your story, for example, outside of a story a character may have just had a fight with their partner, so when your lead turns up they’re in no mood to chat. This adds more realism and interest than every character your lead encounters being in a neutral mood.

Note - If you’re nifty with excel, and have followed the previous step you can create a new column for each character, mark the corresponding box that lines up with each scene, create a table, then filter by character to do this in a power-user type of way. But if you didn’t follow any of that, don’t worry about it – you can generate the same results by hand.

Read more about this character viewpoint technique here.

Ready for Step 11? Blocking is the last step before you are ready to write your first draft.