Tip: Try color-coding your subplots
The novel continues the plot from the first book, but goes in its own direction and adds a number of interrelated subplots that begin and end throughout the book. To make sure I keep them all straight, I wrote a chapter outline (think table of contents) then color coded the chapters according to subplot. Every chapter in one subplot is green; every chapter dealing with a different subplot is yellow, etc.
1. It helps me make sure I resolve every subplot to complete satisfaction. Leaving a subplot dangling is a no-no. By color-coding every subplot, I can quickly look for beginning, middle, resolution.
2. It helps keep an eye on pacing. Subplots help move the main story along. However, I never want to stray from the main plot for too long. Having a color-coded grid helps me see if I am spending too much time in any one area on a subplot instead of the main story. Likewise, it helps me not neglect a subplot for too long.
3. It keeps me focused. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost within a complicated novel. This method helps me keep track of my own storyline. And with a simple trick like this one, I can complete a story line all at once and then place it within the novel, if I find completing the subplot easier to deal with all at once.
If you’re getting lost in your own writing, give it a shot.