Alongside our main plot, subplots help to deepen our stories, either by contrasting or echoing the main plot and its themes. They can provide much needed relief or tension and help to shape your main plot. So what do we need to know about them? Let’s take a look.

Like your main plot, subplots have a setup, rising action, a climax, and an ending that should be wrapped up before your main plot’s resolution. Subplots should also have a character who pursues a goal and faces obstacles and conflict because of that pursuit. Make your subplots strong and plan them beforehand and/or give them as much attention as you do your main plot.

If your story is highly dramatic, use a comedic subplot to give readers a break in tension. Or, conversely, use subplot to build tension and suspense if your story is needing more. You can do this by delaying information about the main plot to add to the suspense or relax tension by taking the reader away from the main action as a break from the main plot’s tension. Tension is a great thing, but we need to release pressure on the valve so to speak every now and then.

Subplots can echo the theme of the main plot, adding depth and complexity to your story. They can also test your character’s morality and strength as they try to achieve their goal. And subplots can be used for further characterization or to develop side characters into real people.

Don’t have too many subplots going on in one story. Up to three is a good rule to follow before your story and your readers get overwhelmed in a longer series. Think of subplots like spices, one or a few make the dish great, but you start adding too many and the flavor gets muddled and confusing.

The love interest is the most common subplot used, but showing character growth, giving the character flaws like a struggle with addiction, or showing obstacles for the protagonist to overcome are a few other subplots you can use. These all help to further characterization and reader’s understanding of your characters. They can also add to the themes of your story.

Which subplots do you like writing best? Share your comments below and, as always, happy writing!


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