If your story lacks punch or believability, or even depth and "proper" length, there's a good chance you don't have enough going on. This week's episode deals with both character arcs and subplots, but today, I want to talk a bit more in-depth about why you NEED at least one (though probably two to four) subplots.
Think about your real life. Or your significant other's. Or sibling's, parents', best friend's, etc. How many things are going on in your life at once? Is it ever just one thing? If the answer's yes, chances are it's either so over-the-top chaotic that it's almost impossible to handle, or it's so boring that no one wants to hear about it for hours on end.
Subplots are those other, often minor, events in characters' lives that make the events on the page feel real. Sometimes the subplots will tie together, or the events will conclude at the same time, or solutions to one will inform the solution to another. But they MUST be present, even if they conclude wildly differently, because without them, the story is nothing more than a ninety-minute action movie.
Or someone's Facebook feed.*
If your book feels flat or short, adding a subplot can help, if it ties in with the main plot.**
Don't believe me? Go pick your five favorite books. Doesn't matter if they're written for Middle Grade audiences or High Literary fans with multiple post-graduate degrees. Each and every one of them has a subplot. At LEAST one.
As for HOW to write a subplot, look for background information about a character's life, then put together events that they need to solve while working on the main plot. The timeline has to work out for both to conclude satisfactorily for the reader, but it's possible to add a few paragraphs or full sections per chapter that are dedicated to these events (think about the romance arc in Soulless, or the "dancing lessons" in Game of Thrones [book not show]).
What about you, any tips on writing subplots?
*Seriously, Facebook feeds are filled with glimpses of someone's life, and the most honest ones either get ignored for being "too whiney" or "too many instances of TMI."
**Keep in mind that the subplot and main plot are separate, but they NEED to both flow through the narrative smoothly or it will feel like two disjointed stories smashed together for the sake of padding pages.