All terms

What is a Double Plot?

A narrative with two interconnected storylines.

Doubling the Storyline: The Art of Double Plotting in Creative Writing

Double Plotting is a narrative technique in which two different storylines run parallel to each other and eventually intersect in some way or another. The two stories differ in theme, character, setting and plot, yet it is the intersections that create a cohesive whole. This technique often helps in keeping the reader engaged, as it provides a change of scene and perspective, without making the novel’s timeline stagnant.

Either plot can be dominant or they may be equally important in driving the story forward. It can be a challenging task, to balance two distinct plots, but executed correctly it can add a new layer of depth to the story. Not only does it offer different perspectives, but it also demands more attention from the reader in terms of tracking parallel narrative threads. However, this technique often requires a lot of planning, even more than writing a linear plotline, as the writer must be able to sketch out how the two storylines interconnect in a satisfying way.

Some classic examples of novels that deploy double plotting are Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel with two storylines: the court case against Tom Robinson and the coming of age of Scout Finch; and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, where the lives of Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton are intertwined with the French Revolution. Double Plotting can elevate a novel from good to great, by offering multiple perspectives within a single story and creating a richer, more satisfying experience.

Two Literary Gems Showing Double Plotting at Its Best

Double Plotting may be challenging but, when it is done right it can produce memorable stories, packed with different angles and satisfying conclusions.

Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

In the novel Wuthering Heights, Bronte uses a double plot: the love affair between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, and the friendship between young Catherine, the daughter of the original Catherine and Edgar Linton’s son. The two love triangles are intertwined, with characters from one triangle causing significant impact to the other, creating a complex web-like structure that's well-remembered.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson

Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has a double plot: the investigation of the disappearance of Harriet Vanger in 1966, and the story of journalist Mikael Blomkvist, who is hired to solve the case. The two plotlines relate not only in terms of theme but also through shared characters and past events, leading into a gripping and complex plot that keeps the reader hooked.