One of the biggest problems I had with switching from short stories to novels, is the sheer size of the project. It’s easy for story lines to get lost and end up unfinished at the end of the story. I complained to my mother-in-law about how hard it was to keep track of each story character and their sub plots, and she gave me a simple yet ground breaking solution.

Print it out, and highlight each story thread in a different color.

Simple, yes? But it works so well. The father of my MC is supposed to be critical to the story, yet he gets a grand total of three sentences in my rough draft. Mom is piled on at the beginning, and she almost takes over the main character. Her plot also seems better developed than Elizabeths, which means..I need to beef up the MC. She’s more important, after all.

The list goes on, but I can see how this story can go from good to ground breaking, in just a few edits. How exciting! Have you ever tried this? If not, what’s your technique for keeping track?