Outlining Multi-Main-Character Books

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Confused? Me too.

Now that we have a general understanding of the outlining process with a one MC book, we will dive into multi MC books. Alright, so in romance type books, it is not uncommon to have a 2-character storyline, thrillers can have multiple and if you look at anything in the Marvel Universe, they have 82. You get the idea, right? Here’s the fun info about multi-character storylines. You must do a complete outline for each of these MCs. Yup. Outline each. How do you know if your character(s) are ‘MCs’? Easy way to look at it is, are they part of the protagonist’s spotlight? Do they play a key role in the narrative? They could be an ally. If at some point in the story this character has control over the narrative then, yes, they are an MC. Confused? Don’t worry, we will figure it all out by the end of this post. I won’t leave you hangin’.

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Mine wasn’t this bad but…

Hi. How are you today? Me? Well thanks for asking. I am great. I made breakfast for my bestie today and she didn’t shame me for burning the bacon. Yes, you can burn bacon and I did just that. Won’t stop me or the Hubs from eating it though- I say as I am nibbling on a piece. My cuppa is full and I have my ebook copy of Take Off Your Pants! by Libbie Hawker and I am ready to move through this portion. I’ll wait while you get a refill, some random nibbles, and find your copy of the book. We are getting VERY close to the end, so remember to vote on our next book journey.

Let’s talk POV. That would be Point of View for those in the back not paying attention. A fairly reliable rule of thumb is if the character has a POV in the storyline then you can assume, they hold a strong role. If you are writing a story where you have an omniscient narrator, then you have a single POV- the narrators. They tend to be more of an observer of the events versus a participant. Unless you read any Sherlock Holmes stories. Watson narrates the events but also plays the ally to the protagonist. Love these books. Another way of determining if a character has a strong role is to determine if they have an inner flaw, and are they connected to the book’s theme. The reason for this is so the reader doesn’t feel like they are reading two separate stories under the same cover art.

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I win!

Once you know whether or not you are writing a multiple POV, it is time to work on the outlines for each character. Often, they are all pursuing the same or similar external goals. In these cases, your characters are all vying for the same thing and only one can win. This can also mean that they are each other’s antagonists. Could be a cool story right there. Just remember that each character’s outline needs equal time and care in its creation.

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When you have your plot points all sketched out for each character it is time to start weaving your multiple outlines together. This is easier than you are imagining. Simply look for opportunities for your characters to meet or come upon one another. You move between each of your characters to draw out more in-depth storylines. You will drop one storyline to pick up another as you progress. Just remember to pick those plot points back up from time to time. Use a cliffhanger or amazing cymbal crash when you drop a plot line. This will keep your reader engaged and wanting to know what happened with that character.

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Which way do I go? Which way do I go?

As you write these characters and their journeys you can build tension through the switching process. When you build up each of their stories and leave your reader with cliffhangers, they will devour your book. Let the tension in your pacing lead the way. Now, what if a character falls away or gives up the external goal? Don’t sweat it. Maybe they become focused on something else and leave the pursuit. Maybe they side with one of the other characters and helps them on the journey. Or you can kill them off. It all can work to your benefit if you do it in the right way. What will work best for your multiple character storyline. As long as you have one good guy/girl and one bad guy/ girl in the struggle for the Golden Carrot in the end it will all work out.

Please remember that I am not trying to write this book for you word for word. I am skipping a lot of detail. I highly suggest you purchase the book and read between the lines.

At this point, Save the Cat! Is in the lead for our next read. I believe there will be only one more post from Take Off Your Pants!

Polish your sparkle and keep twirling.

Find joy. Be joy. Enjoy.

I’m always looking for new friends!

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