It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post, mostly because of TAJ’s website renovation, so here’s an extra-special one to kick it off!

The difficulty of plotting a story is perhaps one of the hardest aspects of a book. The part that trips me the most is finding the perfect complexity.

What is the perfect complexity?

I call it the halfway point. You come up with many ideas and plot strings and characters. My advice? Cut half of them out. Narrow it down until only the bare bone of your incredible story is left.

No one likes filler. Unless it’s good filler. And good filler doesn’t intervene itself into the story until the end. However, pacing is for a whole different blog post, my friend.

How do I reach this perfect complexity?
I have four simple ideas for you. Are you ready?


The first step, of course, is to cut out unnecessary characters. By reducing the characters in your novel, your plot can accelerate. Think about it: with too many people, your scenes become cluttered and slow down.

At all costs, you must avoid the most dreaded thing to happen in your novel.

What is it?

Your reader being lost.

The writer’s job is to take the reader on a journey. If they get lost along the way, well…you’ve just lost a reader and it’s all your fault. Truth is, you’ll probably lose a few more, too.

One thing I do is make a list of all the types of characters (trying not to be stereotypical) I need in my novel. For example, it may be essential to have a hothead and someone with a fear of heights. If you have too many characters, consider combining the two. What if the hothead is the one with the fear of heights? Not only does this make the story easier to follow, it creates complex characters, too.

There is no specific number of how many characters you can have. Just remember to keep them to the bare minimum. If you have too many, friends of the protagonist will become a blur. Teachers will merge into one. The reader’s spark will fade.

You don’t want that precious light to fade, do you?


Some novels simply have far too many scenes. Not that an abundance of scenes are bad, but they need to be beneficial to the plot.

If you have a scene where the hot-head with the fear of heights decides to jump off a tree, why not combine it with the scene of someone discovering his fear? This could certainly speed up the plot if you feel it is moving slowly. Plus, the scene would be quite easy to follow.

Make sure that your scenes don’t become over-cluttered, though. If too many things happen at once, the reader will get lost and lose interest.


For those of you who don’t know, a sub-plot is a miniature story within a story, usually consisting of the basic story structure.

Having too many subplots can make your reader no longer care about the protagonist and his goal. For example, I gave up on finishing the anime Naruto Shippuden because there were far too many sub-plots. I no longer cared if he would become Hokage, or about the outcomes of any of the characters.


I hate filler with all my heart and soul. But here’s the thing: I only dislike it if I notice it. Sometimes filler skips over me and I enjoy it, reading it with awe. But sometimes, I notice it’s awful.

To make sure the reader doesn’t recognize a scene of filler, make sure it has a purpose, no matter how small. Maybe it’s just to show off a little character development. Whatever the reason, make it seem like a large enough reason to not be filler.

If you have too much filler, that makes it more recognizable. Cut it down to the core. Keep it as limited as possible.

You are all awesome!

For those of you who have stuck with Teen Authors Journal since the beginning, thank you so much for the support. You don’t realize how much it means for me to have such amazing authors in my life!

If you have any questions, feel free to comment them below or shoot me a message @melissaclark!

Thank you for reading!

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Melissa Torrefranca

Hello writers of the world! I'm Melissa, the founder / designer of Teen Authors Journal. Although I create blog posts every Tuesday at 4 p.m. (Pacific Time), I have absolutely no clue what I'm doing! I'd love to learn more about all of you, so please don't hesitate to shoot me a message! 🙂

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