If you consider longstanding series of sci-fi and fantasy worlds then this point is obvious. True fans love to dig into little details that many others miss or don’t care about. This ability to look closer, to find something that others miss, is a vital component in creating a believable world. In real life, motivations are insanely varied and relying too much on trope and convention will quickly blend you into the crowd.
Books are built upon thousands and thousands of words. This fact allows authors to delve into surprising depths when fleshing out settings and events in novels. Writers working in the realm of movies and television must be much more brief with how they fit within the boundaries of their mediums. Of course, this doesn’t mean novelists should be wasteful and create bloated manuscripts. Great pacing must balance great detail. Ask yourself if your implementation is elegant. But one of the biggest advantages of books as an entertainment medium is the ability to see past the superficial and provide something extra.
Here, I’d like to discuss the benefits of creating an intricate plot and how to prevent it from becoming over-complicated.
Intricacy Provokes Thought
Simple is boring. The best way to create fans is to leave an impression on your readers. You want them to run through the events of your book even after they put it down. Intricacy provokes thought. Thought is engagement. Give your readers something they can chew on and they will be hungry for more.
It’s fine if you have a lot of cogs in motion to power your book but it can start to feel daunting if you can’t give each of them attention. It is a big task to make them all fit together logically– if you are just slapping story elements together randomly then your engine will break down. Try this: if you can’t describe the greater reason for a story element to be included then maybe your book is getting unnecessarily complicated. If you stay true to the characters and setting and keep the story elements that really work together then readers will have confidence in the whole because all of the smaller components ring true.
Interest must be maintained and the twists and turns of the narrative should feel natural. It’s very important that the progression makes sense to the reader but keep in mind that they don’t always need to know all the finer details. Intricate plotting doesn’t need to be stuffy. Track your action scenes versus downtime and make sure there is a healthy mix of tension and conflict throughout.
Work On Two Levels
It’s okay if a part of your audience is only concerned with the action and intrigue. In the world of video games, many players will skip past cut scenes and text and still enjoy the experience. If a reader glosses over some of the finer points of your story but is still able to appreciate it, that means you’ve done your job as a writer. You can feed those who just have a superficial appetite as well as satisfy the involved readers who want to know all the minor details. It is okay for your story to work on both these levels, and, in fact, I find that many younger audiences benefit from these types of properties. They can be introduced to the basic story and become a fan while still discovering new qualities about the books as they get older and pay more attention to detail.