Writing Tip 28: Subplots

What is a subplot?

A subplot is a secondary plot within your novel. A subplot is like writing supporting characters to your story.

For example: If your main story is about your character finding a dragon’s heart and along the way he/she falls in love, makes friends, fights wizards, encounters other realms, or committed a crime and is on the run. Whatever happens along the way is referred to as the subplot. The subplots are everything that comes before the main characters (MC) find the dragon’s heart.

Subplots may or may not hinder the MC’s ultimate goal. Also, the subplot can add length to your novel. It adds dimensions and adds suspense to the storyline. How boring will it be if the MC had no obstacles to confront while on a quest. A subplot is a great way to add suspense and introduce twists to your story. The subplot is not the basis to the story but is important to move the characters and the story forward.

The subplot should add some sort of direct effect on the main plot in order for it to be relevant to your story, otherwise, omit this subplot and insert another.

Subplots are not usually necessary to a story but they usually are because it adds a level of adventure or humor or thrill to the story.

Why should you include subplot in your story?

1. It improves your characters. It gives the characters different views and be a well-rounded individual. Readers can have a good feel, care, and relate to the characters. It gives the MC the opportunity to showcase multiple sides to their personality.

2. It provides variety. It breaks up the action and intensity with something new and refreshing. It relieves the tension and breaks the monotony of the major plot.

3. It gives length to your story. If you only write what the characters do to complete the major plot then your novel just turned into a short story.

For example: In my story The Scarlet Romance, I have several subplots to add length to my story. The MC needs to find the chosen one but along the way, he falls in love and she’s told a lie about him. She then moves away and cuts all communications with him. He’s in turmoil because he needs to get to the chosen one, find his love, and fight a war.

4. Can promote your story theme. It communicates wisdom, it helps with explaining or showing your MC’s abilities, the other realms in your story, how your characters act in different situations, and how do they solve problems.

5. Will make your story realistic. No one goes throughout their day completing their tasks without some sort of obstacle. A trip to the grocery store can be problematic if, on your way there, you encounter traffic, a crash occurred, or the apocalypse is unfolding. It adds pep to your story. Makes your character seem real. Makes your readers think about what would they do if in that situation (maybe).

Bottom line subplots are a great addition to your story to keep the main plot juicy and adds character dynamics. Make your subplots adventurous, dramatic, and suspenseful. Introduce something new and interesting and entertaining. Don’t leave the subplots unresolved unless you are writing a series. Don’t write subplots that over complicates the story. Make the subplot complimentary to the major plot.

Let me know what else do subplots adds to your story in the comments.

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