Are you writing a novel with subplots? A subplot is a story or narrative that runs alongside the main plot of a book.
For example, let’s take the classic Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet. The main storyline is the one we all know, with Romeo and Juliet falling in love, etc. However, that’s not the only story in the play. The other stories include the rivalry between the two leading families, the Montagues and the Capulets. Another subplot is the efforts to get Juliet married to Paris. Subplots can support the main plot of your story, as in Romeo and Juliet. We understand that the tensions are heightened because of the subplots.
It’s a great idea to include subplots in your novel preparation, because it leads to a richer experience for your reader. It means that they understand the world better, and your characters are more in-depth. It can also lead to better pacing (see this blog post on pacing here!), raise the tension of your narrative, and give context for the reader.
So, when you are writing subplots in your novel, what do you need to consider?
A subplot shouldn’t become more significant than the main plot. If your subplot has taken on a mind of its own and can stand without your plot, it might need a novel itself. Subplots are minor stories told alongside or weaved into a larger piece, but they should not overpower your main plot.
Subplots should not be independent of the main plot. If your main character is off to find and fight a dragon, don’t weave a story alongside it about the baker from the local village trying to find his dog if it has nothing to do with the main story. It will confuse the reader and will be irrelevant. Subplots should help drive the main plot forward.
Struggling to come up with a subplot or wondering what yours is? Look at your main character’s relationships with other characters. Is external conflict being created, leading to internal conflict? How about your minor characters or antagonists? What is that they want from the world, and what will they do to get it? Once you have some answers to these questions, consider how this links in with your main storyline. For example, in my novel The Birth of Ida, a subplot involves a secondary character wanting revenge on Ida. This climaxes in a large scene at the end, and so though the two characters do not spend time with each other past the first and last chapters, the subplot is integral to creating tension in the plot and satisfying the reader.
Do you have any questions on subplots and how to write them? Get in touch. As a writer with a PhD, MA and BA in Creative Writing, I have spent years honing my craft and teaching others how to write. I would love to make your novel the tightest it can be today.