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QUACKCAST 589 - AB positive

Ozoneocean at 12:00AM, June 28, 2022

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A and B stories… And C, and D etc. It seems that it's more popular than ever to have stories with multiple concurrent threads. This is when you have a main story and a bunch of other sub stories all happening at the same time. These might come together at the end of the story or they might peter out. We don't get many stories just made with just an A-plot and nothing else these days.

I used to think it was the mark of a superior writer, but it's really not at all, it's just another in a long line of techniques that has its uses and missuses; most annoying of which is when cutting to the B story takes the momentum and energy out of the A story or it changes the tone of the overall story in an unfavourable way. While a good use of a B story could be to give the audience a momentary rest from the stress and urgency of the A story, while retaining the momentum.

The multiple thread story structure is most obvious in sitcoms, but it's really everywhere and when it's good you don't tend to notice too much. Do you write stories with multiple subplots? Can you name a story that's just an A plot and nothing else?

This week Gunwallace has given us a theme to Into the Bookwoods - A folksy calming journey into dark green, misty, warm depths and golden lit fields in afternoon sun. An acoustic driven piece with the pleasing sounds of plucked wire strings!

Topics and shownotes


Featured comic:
Shadow Born -

Featured music:
Into the Bookwoods - - by Kvalhissir, rated E.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace -
Ozoneocean -
Banes -

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Ozoneocean at 6:20PM, June 28, 2022

First person stories can have just an A plot. Banes and I talked about longer stories and we thought that Indiana Jones and Starwars (the first movie) and just A stories essentially

PaulEberhardt at 11:56AM, June 28, 2022

Short stories typically have just an A plot and nothing more - at least that's what I'm supposed to teach in class as part of their definition (typical textbook example: "Greyhound Tragedy" by Richard Brautigan). Novellas and novels, on the other hand, are kind of defined by typically having more than one plot, like dpat57 said. In practice, I've a feeling that that can't be really true. After all, many good writers like trying to break or at least bend the rules in the hope that it MAY yield interesting results. Not sure if I'd want to read a novel with just one A-plot, though, and in fact I can't actually think of an example for a short story with a clearly defined A- and B-plot separation right now.

usedbooks at 7:55AM, June 28, 2022

I do it all the time because I have an ensemble cast following a variety of character arcs. It helps break up a long story and give some suspense/thinking time to readers (or just a mood change).

dpat57 at 2:34AM, June 28, 2022

I think it's essential for longer stories, so you can leap to another thread when the current one reaches a good cliffhanger moment (and needs to recharge).

MOrgan at 2:01AM, June 28, 2022

I tried it with the Where the Nuts Come From story... and got confused about which character was in which plot. Whoops!

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