I didn’t really plot the novel, which I’m busy with, before I started writing it. I just sat down and wrote.
This means that every now and then I have to pause in my writing and revaluate what I’ve written and then go figure out what I have to write next. While I wish I had taken a couple of days to just plot before I started writing, the process is working and I’m making great progress.
I mention this because recently I’ve had to stop in my writing again and take a look at my subplots. I had to decide what they are doing in my story and how exactly they will affect the end result.
After doing research and working out my own novel’s problems I’ve decided to share with you all I now know about subplots.
First let’s take a look at what a subplot is.
A subplot is a strand of plot that supports the main plot.
If you consider the plot of your novel to be a braid then a subplot would be a single strand in that braid. It is a sequence of events that is part of the story but stands on its own aside from the main plot.
Now I’d like to underline a word in my definition and that is “supports.”
The thing about a subplot is that it has to somehow be relevant to the main plot. It has to support the main plot and there has to be a reason for the subplot to be in the story.
Whatever you do, don’t just create a subplot to be filler. Instead use your subplots to strengthen your main plot and ending.
There are a whole bunch of different kinds of subplots, so here I want to share with you the most often used half dozen.
1. The romance subplot.
This is by far the most common subplot. It consists of the main character overcoming obstacles to be with the love interest.
2. Character arch.
The character arch can count as a subplot. Often how the character changes affect the end of the story and of course it has obstacles and revelations that lead your character to changing.
3. Proving themselves.
I’m simply calling this category “proving themselves” but it covers both redemption and revenge. This is when your character feels like they need to make up for something that happened in the past.
4. Non romantic relationship subplot.
You can have a subplot for relationships such as child parent relationships or friendly relationships.
5. Side character subplot.
If one of your side characters has their own separate goal from the main character than this can be a subplot as long as there are obstacles to overcome and it helps with the story’s end.
6. Other goal subplot.
I’m using this one for my story. My character’s main goal is to get the villain to stop hunting her. But there is a second goal and that is to help an injured friend.
Your character can have two goals which both lead to strengthening the end.
Now I just want to share with you a little about mixing the subplots.
First, let’s talk about where a subplot begins. The importance of the beginning of a story is to introduce your protagonist, antagonist and the main plot or goal. That means that the best place to introduce a subplot is after you’ve laid the ground for those three things.
But how do you close a subplot?
You might have noticed that I mentioned quite a few times that the subplot should strengthen the end of the novel. Keep in mind what closing each subplot looks like.
The most common and normally best suited place to close a subplot is in the third quarter of your story. Before the main plot closed so it can help give that ending some strength.
There is an exception for the romantic subplot though. For some reason we as readers and watchers of movies like to see the romantic subplot closed last. After the final battle we want to see the main character kiss the love interest. We want that subplot to be resolved at the end.
I’m basically done but one last thing you might want to keep in mind is that too many subplots can crowd your story and make it feel confusing, so unless you are writing a 500 page epic stick to less than four subplots.
I hope this will help you with your writing and that you’ll share this post.
If you are busy with camp NaNoWriMo, then good luck to you from me.
What are your story’s subplots? What do you think is most important to keep in mind about subplots?