Plot & Structure Part 4

Following your main storyline, you are sure to discover one or more subplots within your narrative. As writers, we can use subplot as a way to structure your story in terms of creating a cohesive whole. There are a few things to keep in mind when using subplots.

First and foremost, a subplot should never be forced into your story. You will fool no one. When a subplot is forced, your readers will see and know it without question. It disturbance the reading flow and overall enjoyment because it removes the reader from the story.

Your subplot should grow naturally as you develop your main storyline, characters, motives, and so on.

The purpose of a subplot should first and foremost be to push the main story forward through the second act or middle through to the denouement. A subplot also helps deepen your readers understanding of the overall story arc. Subplots also pose and solve issues that are intertwined with the main problem your story sets out to address within the narrative. Ie. Braiding.

As I mentioned, your subplots should not be forced; instead, they should develop naturally. So this begs the question: how does an author develop a subplot?

    Subplots will make themselves known in several ways; through images and symbols that pop up often within your story. Subplots tend to emerge more with your secondary characters – this does not mean every secondary character is tied to a subplot. Finding your subplots may be easier to do once your first draft is complete (in my personal opinion). Once you have discovered the reoccurring symbols and images, our job becomes to decipher their meaning concerning your main plot, characters, motives, themes, and so on. After you have discovered and interpreted the symbols and images, you can begin to develop your subplots and strengthen them within your narrative. Remember subplots are story arcs of their own, and by the middle of the book, the story arcs of the subplots should be moving towards a conclusion.

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