Perusing my WordPress “writing” feed I came across a post by Kathleen Temean with an exercise for adding layers to your plot. While it isn’t anything really earth-shattering, it was interesting and something I am going to try. She outlines 4 steps:
Step 1: Write down the name of your protagonist.
Step 2: Write down the overall problem your protagonist must solve?
… there are levels of problem to utilize: Public problems, personal problems, and secondary problems. Small mysteries, nagging questions, dangling threats – those also can be woven into the plot.
Step 3: Write down the additional problems your protagonist can face. Not complications to the main problem, but altogether different problems. …
Step 4: For each plot layer or at least two that you have added, work out at least four steps or scenes that you will need to bring this narrative line to it climax and resolution. …
One of the things that we know we need to work on in our book is complexity, and plot layers a way to add it. I am definitely going to give this a try tomorrow morning when I sit down to write.