3 Subplot Disasters To Avoid

note-book-1492516-640x480Complex plots draw a reader into the story, craving that moment of awareness when all is unveiled at the end. The main plot alone can have many layers. These layers create depth in the story.

There is one particular kind of layer called a subplot that takes you on a journey through the eyes of another point of view character. Not all stories require a subplot, but it can add another dimension to your novel.

What is Subplot?

subplot is a secondary plot, or a strand of the main plot that runs parallel to it and supports it. … Not only does it show various aspects of the characters, connecting the readers with them, but also it is a story within a story – a sort of a subplot. (literary devices.net) ”

What is the Subplot’s Role?

It’s first and most important role is to support the plot. It may offer underlying threads to the spiritual thread of the book, but it must bring something to the overall plot that enriches it and completes it. It adds a multi-layered effect that intrigues readers and keeps them coming back for more.

3 Subplot Disasters To Avoid:

  1. Parallel Plots- This occurs when the plot and subplot merely share characters and a point in time. The subplot could stand alone and offers very little to the plot itself.
  2. Dangling Plot Thread– This occurs when a subplot does not feed back into the main plot at the end of the novel, supporting it’s conclusion. If it doesn’t impact the end of the novel in some way, it is left dangling with little purpose. It also happens when the subplot is incomplete and left without resolution.
  3. Competing Subplot- The subplot is supposed to strengthen the main plot, but when it competes with the main plot it creates the opposite effect. A subplot that overtakes the main plot in word count or interest level weakens it.

What do you think is the most complicated part of creating a subplot?

The Truth About Subplots – 5 Tips To Using A Subplot Successfully

I love reading complex plots and subplots in novels. The twists and turns intrigue me. My favorite authors are those that keep me guessing and surprise me with new twists. One of the best ways to bring in more complex plot potential is by adding a subplot. When done right, the subplot deepens the story. Done poorly, it makes us wonder why the subplot existed.

5 Tips To Using A Subplot Successfully:

1.  To develop a strong POV subplot, you need to have a longer novel with at least 70,000 words. Usually publishers don’t allow subplots in books shorter than 70,000. Read writing guidelines of the publishing house you are targeting carefully.

2. Subplot should usually start after the main POV characters are established. Many would recommend at the beginning of ACT 2 of your novel. It depends a bit on your writing style, but you definitely need your hero/heroine point of view characters established first. This is something I learned from Susan May Warren at the Great Lakes Get Away in 2009.

3. Subplots Point of View Characters need their own story arc and journey. This may be shorter with a bit less depth, but it needs to be there.

4. Subplots should feed back into the main plot by the end of the story. The subplot should have more connection to the main plot than just its characters. The story line themselves must mesh together as being important parts of the main plot. Be wary of parallel plots that don’t interweave. I learned this at the Storycrafters Retreat in Otsego, MN in 2009.

5.  Subplots are great tools to add an additional truth nuance to your main character’s journey. When the subplot point of view character’s journey has a truth that strengthens the main plot truth it adds richness to your story. This is not a replacement for feeding into the main plot, but in addition to it.

What are things you love a subplot to do?

Matching Socks – How To Determine If Your Subplot & Plot Match

If your house is anything like mine, socks are a nightmare. We have this basket of strays that always seems to grow taller, but no matches are found.

How is it that a sock can disappear so quickly? Is it the dryer monster that eats them or the washer monster, or could it be the whoops I dropped you on the way to the laundry room?

I have finally resorted to something that works. Money. A nickle for every matching pair the kids pull out of the basket. That may sound like a small number, but considering the number of socks in that basket, well I could be broke in five minutes.

Matching socks is harder than it should be, but so is matching our subplot and plot in our novels. How can we be sure we are doing it right?

Your Plot and Subplot Are Mismatched If:

*The subplot does not feed back into the story plot. If you have two plots going along side of each other without a tie in together at the end of the book and interwoven parts throughout, you have parallel plots. This is a sure sign that your plot and subplot are mismatched.

*If your subplot has more scenes than your plot. This is a very common problem for writers. We fall in love with the subplot and it takes over our plot.

*If your subplot does not add to the plot. Does it add depth to the spiritual journey? Or layers to the main story that make it richer? If not, you are mismatched.

*If you have a novel that is less than 60,000 words. In this case, most editors will tell you that you don’t have room to fully develop a subplot in this size of a manuscript.

*If your subplot starts at the beginning of the novel and not the other way around. Your subplot should usually start around the beginning of Act 2. If you start out with the POV scene of a subplot character, chances are you are mismatched.

What are some other signs that you use to determine if your plot and subplot are mismatched?

You Can’t Teach An Old Plot New Tricks – How To Revamp A Dying Story

You know, they always say ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’, but humans aren’t any better sometimes. When we get stuck in a rut, there is no way we want to change.

Just think of all of the people who do things because, “We’ve always done it this way.” I always laugh when this is said by someone in leadership whose ship is sinking. I just want to say, “And how’s that working for you?”

Change is a good thing sometimes. If you don’t believe me, just ask your manuscript.

There are sometimes when we have an old plot. A plot that has been done over and over or is sagging more than a that tire flat around the waist.

Time to revamp that old plot, into a shiny new one. Here’s How:

*Look for predictable things in your characters, like their career and flip them to be opposite. For example, make the girl the NASCAR driver. Make the man the nurse.

*Add a comic relief character that showcases your character’s personality.

*Add conflict- external or internal.

*Use peripheral plotting to create unexpected twists. (Peripheral plot are things that come in from the outside to change the story. For example, a phone call telling the character that someone has died, needs help, or has been kidnapped.)

*Identify two of your most predictable plot points and change them to be opposite or at least very different.

*Go back and add in richer story world.

*Weave in things that make your characters more unique, more likable.

*Make your reader care. Make sure the stakes (What the character has to lose) you have picked matter to your character and your reader.

*Add a new subplot. (This only works if you are writing a Trade Length novel.)

What are some other tips you have for revamping a dying story?