More Subplots

Today, my alter ego, Miss Crankypants, is guest poster over on Kay’s Words. I hope you will visit Kay and leave a comment for Miss Crankypants! Also, here are a few more thoughts on writing subplots in the novel:
Writing Tip for Today: When you write a subplot, here are some other things to think about:

  • Beware the Secondary Character Takeover. Colorful, quirky characters can add depth and interest to a novel. But be careful. If the side kicks are more interesting than the protagonist, readers may not sympathize with the main story as much as they could. If your secondary character is just too good, consider switching the novel’s POV or dial back the character’s role in your present work and make that character the protagonist in another story.
  • Reserve the Highest Stakes for Main Problem. Likewise, a subplot that seems more urgent than the character’s main journey or problem will upstage too. Some writers struggle with how to construct a good story arc, but if you remember that each surfacing of the main problem should be more urgent than the last, it will happen naturally. Let subplots fill in another of the character’s needs: If the main conflict is emotional, subplot may be some external matter, and vice versa.
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment. When you’re drafting, it’s hard to think about anything except getting to “the end.” But with subplots, you can try allowing them to surface at different spots in the story, and then see where a subplot would heighten the suspense, provide for comic relief or let us see a different side of the protagonist. I’m giving you permission to try different things with your subplots.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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