Story Threads and Resonance

17 Oct

by Susan Dennard



This post has been UPDATED

and re-posted on

Pub(lishing) Crawl!


Susan Dennard is a writer, reader, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. Her debut novel, SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY, is now available from HarperTeen. You can learn more about her on her blog or twitter.


17 Responses to “Story Threads and Resonance”

  1. katharine owens October 17, 2011 at 2:00 PM #

    Oooh, makes me want to read SSAD even more. One great example is Jellicoe Road, or any circular story like that– that a-ha moment at the end is fantastic.

    • Susan October 17, 2011 at 2:45 PM #

      Oh, JELLICOE ROAD is totally in my TBR pile. Perhaps it’s time to bump it up!!

  2. Arianna Sterling October 17, 2011 at 4:02 PM #

    I think adding in layers can be a lot of fun. Sure, it might seem tedious at first, but I tend to have these moments where my story will point me in a certain direction and even as the author, it’s me having the AHA moment while I’m still working on it. Happened so, so many times while I was working on Weeping, and again while I was scribbling revision notes all over the place.

    • Susan October 18, 2011 at 5:37 AM #

      That’s my method too, Arianna. I have so many “AHA!” moments during the first draft and revisions, that I just go back and drop in all the needed threads later… I usually wait to write the very end until, well, the very end 🙂 because I don’t know how everything will connect until at least one or two rounds of revisions.

  3. Tim October 17, 2011 at 5:25 PM #

    Ahhh the reason I started reading epic fantasy was that moment when all the little plot lines of all the seperate characters intertwined and EXPLODED. It’s awesome when its done well. Yeah! (Fistpumps)
    Yeah that’s the reason why I started reading George RR Martin. I imagined the final explosion of plot lines at the end and everything would be neatly wrapped up…

    • Susan October 18, 2011 at 5:39 AM #

      I PRAY GRRM can tie up all those loose threads neatly! I know I’ve had some major O_O moments in that series already–places where some little name comes back full force, and I’m left mouth agape. But, since he’s more of a pantser than a plotter, I just hope he reaches the end and isn’t like, “Uh-oh…” (All those subplots and characters are probably why it’s taking him so long to get through the rest of the series! I don’t blame him for needing more time now that the story is so complex!)

  4. Not Your Granny's Coffee October 18, 2011 at 7:56 AM #

    I like this! Thanks!

    • Susan October 19, 2011 at 11:11 AM #


  5. Meredith October 18, 2011 at 8:21 AM #

    YES. This is a fantastic post. My favorite stories are those that are so richly layered that you know when you’re reading them that it’s all going to pay off in the end.

    Ditto Katharine about Jellicoe Road. That book is a great example. Definitely bump it up on your list (but be warned that it’s one of those books that might take you 50 or 100 pages to really get into). 😉

    • Susan October 19, 2011 at 11:12 AM #

      Thanks for the warning–that’s definitely something good to know. I tend to set books aside and not pick them back up (at least when I’m swamped with work as I currently am).

      And YES to the rich pay off at the end… I think it takes more drafts (or VERY solid outlining) to produce these sorts of books, but it’s so worth it in the end.

  6. Asia Morela October 18, 2011 at 11:10 AM #

    I agree, layers or subplots are essential. And they exist in every single selling genre. Which is why it makes me so mad when ignorant people assume that romance novels are ALL and ONLY about the love story. Duh! There are subplots like in any other genre; a mystery to solve, a past trauma to overcome, a danger to avoid, a person to kill, etc.

    I really enjoy the story I’m currently working on because it’s got so many layers. It wasn’t part of the initial idea, which was very much centred on the heroine, but as my secondary characters appear along the storyline, I find myself compelled to tell more about them, about their past, their desires, their conflicts… But I do realize that ideally, all these new layers I’m adding should work together towards a single end.

    • Susan October 19, 2011 at 11:13 AM #

      It’s terrible how much romance gets a bad rap. Of COURSE there are side plots and other characters–it’s just the main plot that is the romance. Why else would there be so many sub-genres in romance? Suspense, paranormal, historical, etc.

      Your WIP sounds great! It’s awesome that it’s developing with those threads as you go–and I bet you’ll find some great way to tie it all up at the end. 😉

  7. Lucy D. Briand November 9, 2011 at 8:45 PM #

    This was is a great post, what came and got me was the full circle thing. I’m in the middle of my first revision, although I don’t have an ending yet. (Like you I wait until my 2nd or 3rd revision to write the ending)

    You’re comment on bringing things full circle, trying to finish the story in the same place as you started it triggered the perfect final scene for my novel. Thank you.


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