Balancing Your Story’s Throughlines

Q: I am not sure I know what my Overall Story throughline is at all. The reason I am having such difficulty is that my gut is telling me for some reason that my Overall Story has to bring all the characters together in some way. For example, the overall story throughline in Garden State seems weaker than the one in The Silence of the Lambs. Can you give me help in working out a strong overall story throughline for a story where the Main Character and Impact Character stories [throughlines] come to me first?
A: Every complete story has the four throughlines, but they do not need to be given equal weight or emphasis. Action films typically emphasize the Overall Story throughline. Romance films typically emphasize the Subjective Story (relationship) throughline. Personal dramas (e.g. Hamlet) tend to emphasize the Main Character throughline. Part of the emphasis comes from screen time. Another part of the emphasis comes from how it is encoded. Garden State is a small personal film so its Overall Story throughline is suitably small and personal. The Silence of the Lambs is a flashy, almost operatic story (FIB, psycho serial killers, etc.) so its Overall Story throughline is suitably grandiose. The Overall Story throughline involves ALL of the characters in your story. It's best to think of them in the Overall Story throughline by their roles. In Silence of the Lambs, you have the FBI trainee, the serial killer, the incarcerated master mind, the asylum director, etc. Identifying your characters by their roles objectifies them and makes it easier to see how they fit into the "big picture." So, if you want to create a "strong" Overall Story throughline in your story, give it special emphasis through "bigger" storytelling and devote more screen time or pages to it.

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