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Between the plot points

It’s so easy to come up with a riveting plot line, one that will satisfy readers with twists and turns and adventure and tragedy. But how can you get from one major plot point to another without losing your readers’ interest or wearing them out? It’s important to find a balance between too much happening in your story and not enough.

Don’t overload your story. It may make sense to keep readers interested with several high points and unpredictability, but ‘too much of a good thing’ definitely applies here. If there’s too much going on, it will be hard for readers to follow and it will be downright exhausting. You don’t want to cause your readers to put down a story because too much was happening. It’s good for a story to have a lot of action or a subplot or two, but once you get beyond those few juicy bits, it’s very easy for a reader to get confused. Remember, you want them to follow your story and understand it.

Don’t starve your readers of action. On the other end of the spectrum, you don’t want your readers to think a story is boring. Even if a specific plot point is the most important, you don’t want to lose your readers before they get to the good part. More often than not, if you don’t capture a reader in the first part of the story (first chapter if you’re writing a novel, first two or three paragraphs if it’s a short story), they won’t finish it. Make it interesting from the get-go. Obviously you won’t start off with your characters in the middle of the climax, but you should make it clear from the start that something interesting will happen to these characters and the reader should definitely stick around for the rest of the story.

The balance is between these two extremes. Where those extremes are really depends on the type of story you’re writing. Certain genres seem to have different quotas for subplots and main events. But when you’re writing material that takes place between those high points, don’t let your reader lose interest. Keep the characters moving and doing something, always keeping in mind they have to end up in a certain situation at the next major plot point, whatever that may be for you. Make your characters do something so they aren't just waiting for something else to happen to them. It doesn't have to be majorly important, but readers don’t want to know exactly how many steps it took the character to make their sandwich.