How to Incorporate Subplots

How to Incorporate Subplots
August 16, 2016 1 Comment Writing Advice J.K. Allen

subplotSubplot support the main plot, adding layers and complexities to your story. The most common subplot is the romantic love interest subplot, but there are many others you can employ. Subplots help you develop your characters and show their emotional and character growth and transformation. They also help in increasing tension or providing much needed relief from your main story’s tension. They speed up or slow down your pacing and create the mood for your story. And they also enhance your story’s theme.

Subplots should be woven throughout our main plot. First begin by developing your subplot. Brainstorm and prewrite for your subplot as you would your main plot. Ask yourself what would create tension and drama for your characters. This is how you find subplots that add to characterization and keep your reader interested.

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Decide how to weave your subplot into your story. Is it separate and parallel to your main plot or intricately woven into the main plot? Does it bookend (meaning it is introduced in the beginning then left until the end to resolve)? Does it build tension for the main plot or relieve it? Make informed decisions about your subplot to make them more impactful to your reader.

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Like your main plot, your subplot needs to have rising action, a climax, and an ending or resolution. Your characters need to have a goal to achieve for the subplot and conflict that keeps them from achieving their goal. This can add tension to your main plot or relieve it. It can also echo your story’s theme or contrast it, working as a foil for your main character or for the theme.

Now all that’s left is for you to write and add your subplots to your main plot. Happy writing!

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J.K. Allen Julia Allen received her BA in Creative Writing and English from Michigan State University. She did her senior thesis in poetry under the tutelage of Diane Wakoski, but has been focused primarily on fiction as of late. Common writing themes that can be found in her work address identity and the type of strength that can be found in ordinary people. Julia is currently working on a Young Adult fantasy novel and can be found at local cafes in her hometown when writing, and painting, drawing, or reading when not.
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