Monday, March 19, 2018

Subplots 101





Think back to your school days. Specifically, to your high school English class.

Think of that reading assignment you enjoyed…until you were in class the next day and the teacher started throwing out words like ‘theme’ and ‘plot.’ Why couldn’t you just enjoy the story?

The thing is, you can enjoy reading a story without dissecting it. But if you’re going to write a story – a good story – you need to know the details that you ignored in your high school English class.

Today we’re going to talk about subplots.




First, we need to know what a plot is. The basic definition is: The main events of a story presented by the writer in a sequence.

The subplot is a parallel but secondary plot line that supports the main plot. The subplot usually involves secondary characters who interact with the main characters as the plot and subplot intersect.

Think of the plot as an interstate highway. If you’ve ever traveled across the country on I-70, you might have noticed that the highway often intersects with the old highway, US 40. Look at a highway map (like Google maps) to see what I mean. The span between Indianapolis and St. Louis is a perfect example.

I-70 is the main plot. It takes you straight from Indianapolis to St. Louis in a sequence of cities and rest stops. But US 40 takes a parallel route, with stops in small towns and views of rural America that you don’t see from the interstate, adding interest and depth to the journey.

That’s what a subplot does for your story: it adds interest and depth to the plot. But don't forget that the subplot also needs to be directly related to the main plot. You don't want to have two completely different stories going on at the same time. Like the highways, they need to intersect on a regular basis.




The decision to use a subplot, and how many subplots, depends on your story. In my stories for Love Inspired, I usually have one subplot. In my longer stories for Revell, I will have several subplots.

In a shorter novel, it’s important to concentrate on the main plot. You want your characters to get from point A to point Z without a lot of detours. The action moves quickly, and you don't have a lot of time to wander around in secondary character's stories.

In a longer story, you need subplots to give the story substance. In a story of that length, you have the time to explore all the issues and ideas that the main plot might suggest.

For instance, in “The Sound of Distant Thunder,” my September 2018 release from Revell, my Amish characters are dealing with the effects of the Civil War on their Ohio community. How many issues are brought up in this main conflict? I found several! I use subplots and secondary characters to explore the choices and challenges my characters face.




I’ll use my book, Naomi’s Hope, as an example. (spoiler alert!)

The main plot centers around motherhood and loss. Naomi’s adopted son, Davey, is curious about his birth family and longs for a father. As Naomi deals with the fear of losing her son, she needs to learn to trust God to keep Davey safe and to bring the situation to the conclusion that pleases Him.

For one of the subplots, I used Naomi’s sister Mattie as the secondary character who has a parallel experience. At the beginning of the story, Mattie is dealing with the burden of infertility. She becomes pregnant, but then suffers the loss of the child part way through the pregnancy.


Do you see how Naomi’s and Mattie’s experiences are similar? Both love a child that they must face relinquishing through no choice of their own. They both learn that their response to the situation makes all the difference.

By including Mattie’s story, I broaden the effects of Naomi’s story. Naomi’s situation tells the story of motherhood and loss from one perspective. Mattie’s story provides a different slant, strengthening the effect of the theme of the story.




If you’re a writer, how do you use subplots in your stories? Have you thought about the role they play?

If you’re a reader, what are some of your favorite subplots?





I’m giving away a copy of Cheryl St. John’s “Write Smart Write Happy” to one commenter today. Even though Cheryl wrote this book for writers, I think it provides wonderful inspiration for anyone who wants to take control of the details of their life so they are free to enjoy whatever creative endeavor they engage in.






70 comments:

  1. I love subplots... I love reflective writing, where one story parallels the other and adds depth to the whole book... and I had the honor of reading Jan's upcoming book for endorsement and her skillful and beautiful handling of these subplots and the characters was absolutely sigh-worthy! Beautifully done, Jan!

    It's tricky to layer in reflective writing in shorter books... sometimes I sneak it into backstory... sometimes animals. An animal's plight can reflect the human angst and draws in animal lovers near and far. "The Yearling" was my first taste of that, and "Where the Red Fern Grows", and I've never forgotten how that part of the story stole my heart and was used so effectively...

    Jan, thank you for this! Wonderful!!!

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    1. *sigh* Ruthy likes my book! :-) Thank you for your kind words!

      Animals make great secondary characters for subplots! And now I'm thinking back to your earlier stories... You use animals a lot, don't you? And what makes a better story than kids and animals?

      But using your writing skills to lend depth and purpose to that secondary character's story - person or animal - is what makes your books bring readers back again and again.

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    2. I have killed dogs... birthed calves... saved stray, pregnant dogs... birthed dwarf Nigerian goats... possibly killed another dog... had kittens... bred Australian Shepherds... bred designer cows if only to show that life makes nothing perfect on the human scale... :)... right now I'm breeding fictional sheep, re-dressing a sheep farm, raising a puppy from fictional stray dog, raising high-end Quarter Horses, and thinking therapy for a fictional miniature donkey who needs a friend and loving on Jake, the young pup that ran smack dab into a car in "A Light in the Darkness' and is now living life to the full in the lighthouse with Priscilla... :) Jake's life had taken a steep turn in the road... so had Priscilla's... but it came out okay because they found each other. Holy Moly, I'm sure there are more, but yes, there are animals in my stories, LOL! I'm such a farm girl!

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    3. And I didn't just like the book... I loved it. :)

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  2. I brought coffee and buttermilk pie to the table! And tea, of course!!!!

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  3. Hmmmm. Buttermilk pie.
    Jan, Thank you for this helpful information. Subplots can be tricky to use. Just read Ruthy's Wishing Bridge book one. It was full of subplots, ones that make me want to read the next books--another great function of subplots .
    I would love to be entered into the drawing. Thanks for sharing with us today.

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    1. Hi Bettie!

      You brought up a great point. I'm in the middle of "Welcome to Wishing Bridge," too, and the subplots that Ruthy weaves into that story are full of promises for good things in the next books in the series!

      That's another great way to use subplots, especially in the first book of a series. You can help your readers anticipate future stories by giving hints as you introduce secondary characters who will be the heroes and heroines of upcoming books.

      And don't forget those secondary characters whose subplot becomes a story arc that threads through all the stories in the series. I think Maggie and Jeb's subplot will be one of those...but I could be wrong! I'll have to read the whole Wishing Bridge series to find out. :-)

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    2. Oh, Bettie, thank you! It was so much fun to write that story, and I just finished Thea's story... and again, delightful. I want to live in Wishing Bridge! I could be besties with Maggie and those girls! :)

      I wanted this whole series to celebrate friendship and devotion... women uplifting other women. With a shot of romance!!!! :)

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  4. Jan, these are good points and something I came to slowly. But we're getting there. In the sequel to my Oregon Trail story, both the hero Pace and the antagonist Roy have had horrific childhoods. Pace deals with it by becoming a wounded loner, but with his own unshakable code of honor. Up until his conversion he says, "If a man don't have religion he's gotta have something," and for him that's honor. Roy, on the other hand, becomes a psychopath. And they both love the same woman, in a different way. Pace has a kind of hero worship, the ma he never had, and he wants to protect her; Roy wants her body.
    In my new contemporary Christmas romance, which I'm shopping around, Paul, a secondary character, wants a mom for his daughters and a wife to comfort his widowed heart. He thinks it might be Jane, the heroine, but God has other plans for her. So...Paul gets his own book, the sequel, and finds the woman God meant for him. Strong secondary characters do make great sequels.
    Would love to win a copy of your book, I'm trying to get my reviewing schedule up and running again.
    Kathy Bailey

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    1. It takes time and experience to develop writing skills, including subplots, doesn't it?

      You've brought out a great point - the secondary characters need to have a strong backstory, just like the main characters. That's why it's so important to flesh out those secondary characters...you never know when one might demand their own story!

      Today's drawing is for Cheryl St. John's book, but I know she'll love a review!

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    2. This is so interesting, Kathy. I am so looking forward to this book!!!

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    3. I would LOVE to win Chery's book. I have the one on emotion, tension and conflict. I thought you were giving away one of yours, blame it on no caffeine yet, but I can ALWAYS use a craft book.

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  5. Subplots definitely making a richer reading experience, but I've never written anything with subplots in it. I'm working through how to change my WIP to include another level and am brainstorming right now. Thanks for a great post that gives me a lot to think about!

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    1. I hope my post helps, Glynis!

      And subplots are the perfect way to ramp up the complexity and reading enjoyment of a story. I'm looking forward to hearing how it works out!

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  6. Good morning, Jan! I love a good subplot that mirrors and enriches the main story. Definitely hard to squeeze into a shorter book where the line, your editor, and readers expect the focus to be solely on the hero and heroine in a story with limited word count, but sometimes you CAN slip a good one in there! :)

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    1. You're right - it's hard to bring a sub-plot into a shorter book. You just don't have a lot of words to devote to it, do you?

      In my WIP, a Love Inspired story due out in Feb. 2019, I'm trying to weave a romance between secondary characters into the story. It's not easy! But if it works, it's going to be a great element in the story. :-)

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    2. This, what Glynna said, is an excellent point. The subplot, if it echoes the main plot...the same conflicts, etc., really enriches the story!

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  7. Great run through on subplots, Jan! I enjoy figuring out a good subplot for my stories. I've seen stories where the subplot takes the opposite side of the character's take on the theme. That's the beauty of subplots. They can expand on the theme and take it in different directions.

    Great post, Jan!

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    1. I love that, Jeanne! Subplots that highlight the opposite of the character's journey...I've seen that, too.

      I think it's especially powerful when the opposing subplot belongs to the antagonist, like Kaybee mentioned earlier. Now I'm going to be looking for that as I read!

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  8. Jan, I definitely see the power in subplots, but I don't write them as often as I should. It could be that you-need-to-think-this-thing-through deal. I don't plot as much as I should. Get the basics and start writing...
    The current book I'm reading has a great subplot that I'm sure is going to tie together w/the main very soon. I love it.

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    1. Hi Connie!

      I'm a plotter...but I like to watch the story grow organically. Subplots tend to unfold for me as I write, but when I see them revealing themselves, I can develop them. I rarely plan out a subplot ahead of time! When I find them, or snippets of them while doing revisions, then I can go back and develop them more completely. :-)

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    2. LOL! Of COURSE there's hope for you!!!

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  9. Jan, thanks for this great post! I've written mostly novellas lately, so it's been a while since I've worked on a subplot. They can be really nice for deepening the story. I enjoy having subplots, like the hero or heroine dealing with relationship issues with other family members or friends.

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    1. A novella has no room for subplots, does it? Maybe that's why I've never tried writing one... ;-)

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  10. Excellent post, Jan. Subplots are some of those layers that add dimension to a story and give it more depth. They accent the main story and, often, enlighten the hero or heroine on their journey. Like Missy, I tend use a lot of family issues. However, I don't think I've ever really contemplated a subplot, they just kind of show up. I guess my blonde brain doesn't roll that way. If I overthink things, I'm dead in the water. And that is never a good thing. Yet, somehow, those subplots end up in the story anyway.

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    1. My subplots usually just show up, too. I think it's my subconscious working overtime in the background. Maybe that's what blonde (or mostly formerly blonde, in my case) brains do - work in the background so we don't overthink things.

      While writing, I know I need to take a break every 30 minutes or so, or even over a weekend. I call it "letting the story simmer on the back of the stove" - but what I'm really doing is letting my subconscious work on it. And if I don't take that occasional break? My brain just overthinks things and it all turns to mush!

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    2. I couldn’t agree more, Jan. As I’ve said before, I get some of my best ideas when I’m doing mundane things like laundry or dishes. Allowing things to simmer is always beneficial.

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  11. Oh, Jan, I just LOVE subplots, so I totally concur with this excellent post, my friend.

    BRING 'EM ON!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. You are the subplot QUEEN, Julie!

      When I read "A Passion Most Pure," I was amazed you were able to whittle the word count down to an acceptable level with everything that was going on in that story!

      One of the dangers to too many subplots is that the reader gets lost - so many things going on, so many characters. But that never happens in your books! Your skillful weaving keeps it all straight, and the story flow effortlessly...at least for the reader. And that's where it counts, right?

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    2. Aw, Jan, thank you SO much for your kind comment -- it means all the more coming from a respected peer such as yourself. And, LOL ... if you can call almost 500 pages "whittled down"! ;)

      Hugs!!
      Julie

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  12. Great post, Jan! Thanks for sharing!

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  13. Great post, Jan. The topic brings up questions for me. The book I am writing has three main story lines with four POV characters. It is about a town and particularly a church destroyed by a tornado. The book explores how each of the characters is impacted by the tornado and how they overcome the problems presented by it. Two of the characters are husband and wife, and their story line goes together. I start and end with them, and they seem in some ways to me like my major story line. But all the stories intersect. So does that sound like tree major story lines, or like a book with subplots. I am putting in some characters that do not currently have a story line but ones I would put into my next book.

    Please put me in the drawing. Cheryl's book is on my list to get.

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    1. Good morning, Sandy!

      Even in a book with multiple POV characters, you'll have one who is the Main Character (or two, if you're writing a romance). So the other characters - even if you write scenes in their point of view - are secondary characters. Their storylines will be subplots.

      It sounds like your husband and wife characters are the main story line, so to strengthen all of the story lines, you'll want the others to relate to that main one.

      The aftermath of the tornado sounds like the story element that will help tie all of the characters and plots/subplots together, but you'll still want to identify the main line.

      Does that make sense?

      My favorite piece of advice (from a writing teacher somewhere in my past...) is that when you're trying to learn a new skill or understand a concept, re-read your favorite book. But rather than letting yourself get lost in the story, pay attention to how the author handled the particular concept you're trying to learn.

      I've learned a lot by reading books from the original Seekers this way!

      And you're in the drawing!

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  14. Jan, thank you for the post...I was smiling readig "Think of that reading assignment you enjoyed…" I "hated" my reading/writing classes in school LOL I love reading; however, the writing piece associated with it is not for me :) Blessings!

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    1. LOL! I was so-o-o-o-o impatient in my English classes! It's fun to find a kindred spirit!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. Natalya, I hated reading assignments in school because teachers would ask, "So, what do you think the author was trying to tell us in this passage/story, etc.?"

      And of course there was no right or wrong answer, imo. Goodness, just enter half a dozen writing contests and you'll see what I mean. Not even professional readers/writers can agree on what an author means.

      Drove.Me.Bonkers!

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  15. I mainly use subplots to set up book #2 of a series. I need secondary characters to be getting into trouble in some way that crosses over into the lives of whoever is in book #1. The tricky part of that is, I count of subplots to add LENGTH to a book and in book #3 (I always write 3 book series) there's no book #4 to set up so I lose my easiest subplot focus.

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    1. Mary, you are a master at this. I don't do that because I don't write far enough ahead to sprinkle in foreshadowing of the next book. Wait... I take that back...

      I had a very LIGHT subplot in book #1 of the Natchez Trace series that foreshadowed book #2, and readers picked up on it. Then in book #2, I foreshadowed the relationship between two brothers. We were in edits on book #2 when I was writing book #3, so was able to tweak a few lines that gave hints to what had happened years earlier to two other brothers.

      So, I do this a little bit, but not with my hero/heroine and the romance. I like to physically keep the h/hn off the stage until they make their debut. :)

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    2. I had to laugh reading this, Mary! There might not be a book #4, but there's always another series, and a lot of your series are related to each other. So you still use those secondary characters and their stories - even if they don't appear "onscreen" - to help set up the next series.

      That's one of the joys of reading your books - seeing those familiar names pop up!

      And then there's the whole thing of adding length. You're so right! When I sign a contract for shorter novels (like 70,000 words for Love Inspired Historical), I'm pretty sure my main plot and maybe one short subplot will give me the word count I need. But when I sign a contract with Revell for 90,000 word books, I know I'll be relying heavily on subplots to strengthen the story AND add words. :-)

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  16. I mentioned in a comment above how I might sprinkle in just a bit of foreshadowing about the overall arching theme of a series, but I've never really thought of that as being a subplot to the current book.

    I have romantic subplots in all three books of the Natchez Trace books, with varying levels of relation to the main plot.

    The villian's subplot tends to play a pretty significant role because the hero/heroine has to act/react to whatever he/she does or doesn't do.

    And, then, I added a really cool subplot to book #3 (just turned it in last week!), so it remains to be seen what my editors think.

    So, yeah, subplots play a huge role in my full-length novels. There's usually several going on.

    And I just remembered the subplot of the street kids (and Luke!) in my debut novel, Stealing Jake. Did you know that book SOLD immediately after I added that subplot? Coincidence maybe, but imo, it took it to a whole new level.

    Oh, and there was subplot involving a cat in Claiming Mariah. People remember that! ;)

    Great topic, Jan!

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    1. Thanks, Pam! And I remember that subplot of the street kids in Stealing Jake, and you're right. It added a perfect new dimension to the story. It added purpose to the heroine's motivation, and I can't imagine the story without it!

      Now I'm thinking through my TBR pile, moving Claiming Mariah farther to the top....and I'll be sure to look for that cat! :-)

      And you brought up a great point: When you foreshadow the next book, is it a subplot, or foreshadowing? I think it probably depends on how complete that foreshadowing is. Something to think about...

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  17. Hi Jan, I really liked this post.I was the nerdy kid in English class who loved to dissect the story and figure out all the elements the author put into it and why. I still do that when I read a book and I still enjoy reading. Who knew? But I have to say that all those subplots make the story for me. A book with no (or vague) subplots doesn't make me want to read more (like a novella). I guess I'm always hoping the author takes one of those subplots and secondary characters and makes it into another book someday. Thanks for all the interesting info - this one's a keeper

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    1. I just read Mary's comment - YES, like that!

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    2. So you're the one they had in mind when they designed those English classes! LOL!

      I still don't like to dissect books I'm reading - at least the first time through - but I'll do it with movies. Drives my husband nuts. ;-)

      Glad you enjoyed the post, Cindy!

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  18. I appreciate subplots that add depth, but sometimes I like a subplot that brings in a little humor.

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    1. Oh, yes! When you have a humorous subplot it's a lot fun, but it also is great for relieving tension when the main plot gets heavy.

      Thanks for that insight, Jenna!

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  19. I always enjoy when an author chooses to give their secondary characters a story if their own and a chance to shine. One example is Susanne Dietz's A Reluctant Guardian and A Mother for His Family. Carolyn Miller has also carried over secondary characters and given them their own chance!
    Thanks for this Monday morning lesson!

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    1. I love that too, Connie. I've written one western, and I had always intended to give one of the secondary characters his own story. I even foreshadowed it in the book. But I haven't taken the opportunity to get back to him yet.

      *sigh* Unless you're a Ruthy, there are only so many books you can write in a year. ;-)

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  20. Jan, thanks for a great explanation of subplots. I'm still working on understanding how to work the main plot ha. But with your post, I'll now be thinking about what subplots might work in my WIP. YAY!) No need to put me in for the drawing. I already have Cheryl's book.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Pat! And have fun on your learning curve. It's a steep one, isn't it? But the Seekerville archives have lots of great posts to help!

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  21. Hi Jan:

    Subplots can be very annoying. They can also be surprising satisfying.

    I like a subplot to seem to be independent of the main plot so that a given outcome is not required for the main plot to have its HEA. I feel like a dependent subplot is just part of the main plot using secondary characters.

    I like a subplot (which seemed to be unrelated to the outcome of the main plot) to have a surprise ending that shows how important the subplot was to the unexpected solving of the main plot. The readers should say to themselves, "OMG! Why didn't I think of that?"

    I like the loose ends in the subplot to be tied up in the epilogue providing the reader with a surprise second helping of HEA -- sending the reader to the computer to buy your next book or nearest backlist book out of sheer enjoyment.

    I don't like coplots, disguised as subplots, which act to compete with a weaker main plot. Even when the co-plot is as good as the main plot, it still drives me nuts when plot and co-plot share alternating chapters. Just when one plot is getting really interesting the chapter ends and you have a big letdown as the next chapter picks up and slowly gets up to speed on the second co-plot just as that chapter ends! (I call this the 'soap opera back after this commercial letdown'.)

    Subplots can mirror the main plot without the main plot characters realizing it at the time. They can also run the opposite direction of the main plot while still surprisingly providing the solution to the main plot question. There might be two subplots seemingly running contrary to each other, as tributaries, to the main stream of events. At the end they can amazingly merge to provide the solution to all three problems. Impossible? No, this is what Glynna Kaye did in her book, "Dreaming of Home," in which the hero and heroine each badly needed the same house and the same -- but only -- job at the high school in a small town. Both hero and heroine were taking independent efforts to get their own way. (Tributary subplots). I just loved that book! (I've always thought of Glynna as the quiet genius Seeker.)

    BTW: I don't really think of Julie's Boston books as having sub-plots per se. Reading those books seems more like just jumping into life itself and watching things happen around you. (Do you really think about the subplots in your own life? :)

    Vince

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    1. Vince! It's great to see you here this afternoon!

      As always, you've given us a lot to think about.

      I love the way you described your favorite kind of subplot - seemingly independent of the main plot, but with a reveal at the end that ties them together. You've just described some of my favorite books!

      That kind of subplotting requires a real plotter at heart, writing a full length novel. A writer needs the time (and expertise!) to set up the subplot and bring about the satisfying ending.

      And I think the line is very narrow between that subplot and the coplot you described. Sometimes those coplots can simply be poorly done subplots. And I agree about the alternating chapters! Why not just write two books and have done with it? But that's just my opinion. I know there are books written in that style that are very successful. The author accomplished what he set out to do. In a way, it's a case of needing to be very good at what you do in order to break the rules that way.

      I agree about the subplots mirroring the main plot. In fact, I think they're best used when they do that, and even more delicious when they're subtle.

      And now I have to read "Dreaming of Home!"

      Finally, you won't believe this, but I do think about subplots in my own life...usually after the fact, when they have intersected with the main stream enough that I see their effect...and I'm powerless to go back and change events when I could have. Is it God hammering in the lessons He needs to teach me? Maybe.

      Thank you for chiming in on this discussion! And now you see why I called the post "Subplots 101." Maybe someday I'll tackle "Subplots 201!"

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    2. Sometimes this depends on genre... A family saga like Julie's books are a romance-based book, but they're actually family sagas... so there's a lot of license to be had there. You know I don't like to lock-and-load genres, I think good storytelling is good storytelling and can cross-genre and/or create its own. Jan Karon set the bar with Mitford and we all jumped on board because they were charming... but they broke all the established rules while they won our hearts!

      Vince, I do agree on the co-plots, where two stories with really little in common aren't woven together... they're just kind of in the same book. That was a thing for a while. I hope it's ended because you're right, it was a page stopper. I didn't finish any of those books because it wasn't storytelling... it was like reading periodical excerpts (McCalls magazine or Women's Day, etc.) only without a reason to go on...

      But then there's using multiple points of view... I did this in Welcome to Wishing Bridge and it was chancy... but I was pretty sure the reader would love it, because it drew them into the town and in that series the town is as much character as setting... The reviews are bearing me out, only one person said it was too busy and confusing for her/him and that's okay. We won't please everyone...

      So I didn't see the varied povs as subplots... but all part of the main plot of God's perfect timing.

      #rulebreaker
      #lovetellingstories!!!! :)

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    3. Hi Jan:

      Your comment about thinking about the subplots in your life is like a wakeup call! Perhaps it would be wise to look for and consider what would be subplots in your life. If it is true that 'the unexamined life is not worth living', then the existence of possible subplots should be examined.

      I'm looking forward to Subplots 201. How about using the environment as a mirroring subplot as I've seen done with earthquakes, dams, hurricanes, and draughts. Do subplots have to involve people?

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    4. Hi Ruth:

      Remember in school when you had to diagram a sentence like, 'Get over here right now!' and you couldn't find the subject? And the teacher said, "the subject is 'you' understood'"?

      I think there is also a 'you understood' for each writing rule and that is: "unless…".

      Ex. "Do not use multiple POVs in one chapter or one scene…unless the reader will always know who the POV character is."

      The trick here is that the writer has to know all the 'unlesses'.

      How about a post on all the 'unlesses'? Unlesses 101.

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  22. Maybe this is why I haven't written a decent novel... I've never given much thought at all to subplots. And I don't think they taught story writing in my school. So I haven't had any training. Just a whole heap of reading. But I enjoyed today's post! Thank you, Jan!

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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    1. Hi Phyllis,

      Reading - lots of reading - is the best training of all! Start asking yourself questions like: Why do I like this book? What scene brought tears to my eyes? What scene made me laugh? How did the author write that?

      There are no classes that can teach you that!

      God bless you, too. :-)

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    2. I agree that heaps of reading is the best way to learn!

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  23. I didn't have to think too far for memories of my High School English XD

    I love subplots, though often times I don't even realize that I'm putting them in my stories. I didn't realize how many subplots and side stories I would put in until I had to write a novella under 20,000 words and had to cut out everything extraneous to make it fit (I still had 21,000 words when I was finished... yeah I can be a little wordy sometimes, can you tell? ;P). However I liked a particular subplot so much that I decided to write a sequel and add it as a sub plot to that book.

    I like subplots because I feel like they give you a better glimpse of the characters. Seeing how they react outside of the normal plot.

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    1. Nicki, that's smart to move your subplot to another story! Great use of words you had to cut. :)

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  24. Hi Jan. Great post on the value of subplots. They can serve as either mirrors or foils to the main plot. While I do use subplots, I don't really plan them out ahead of time, they just sort of happen organically as I'm working through my main plot, if that makes sense.

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  25. A very well thought out post! Very informative! I am working on a full-length after writing a string of novellas, and I'm reveling in the extra word count that allows for more exploration of subplots!

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  26. Jan, thanks for this great post! Love the explanation of subplots. Would love to win a copy of Cheryl's book. Thanks for the chance. This post has been very helpful. Going to work on subplots!

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  27. Jan,
    Thanks for providing such a lovely post on subplots. Love your use of I-70 and US 40. I remember traveling US 40 as a child...long trips through lots of small towns! I much prefer the interstate!

    For LIS stories that have a 55,000 word count, the subplot needs to be short and sweet. There's not much extra room for anything in depth...yet subplots--however light--do add a nice layer to the main story.

    Thanks for providing such interesting food for thought today as I tackle my WIP!

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  28. I'm late chiming in here, Jan, but I loved your post. Thanks so much!

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