1. NeeNee
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    NeeNee Member

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    Do I need a subplot to my story?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by NeeNee, Sep 9, 2016.

    I am working on a story for my novel writing class and I am starting to think that I need something else, maybe a subplot or something. Here's the basic story:

    Amy leaves her abusive boyfriend, she takes a Greyhound from TN to Ohio. On the bus she meets a woman who tells her that her brother runs a cemetery and he is in need of someone who can enter old files onto the computer's database so people can find information online (genealogy research, etc).

    The person running the cemetery lets Amy stay in the creepy old house that once was a caretaker's home although for the past twenty years it has just been used for storage. (it is filled with boxes of records).

    Around the climatic point of the story Amy discovers the people she has been making friends with at the cemetery are all or almost all ghosts who live in the cemetery. Amy's boyfriend shows up trying to forcibly take her back to TN. Her new friends stop him from taking Amy (not sure on the details yet).

    End of story Amy accepts that the spirits love her and accept her and she becomes their new caretaker.

    --

    As for subplots I've had a few ideas.

    Idea One: Someone looking for genealogy research, possibly adopted or something, comes to cemetery to find as many graves from her family tree as she can. The family was very prominent back when the town was very young and there are several things in the town named after the family. A large ornate stone marks the main section where this family is buried but there's a small stone set way in the back of the cemetery that also belongs to this family, the stone is plain and only has a name and date of birth and death on the stone. Hidden in the grass, laying flush with the ground is a stone next to it that merely says "infant".

    Amy wants to discover why that stone is hidden and so far from the rest of the family members. She becomes friends with the woman seeking information about the family and together they solve the mystery. (She might be friends online rather than in person, maybe this woman doesn't live in the area and that's why she has Amy helping her.)

    Idea Two: Something going on with the man who runs the cemetery. Maybe he's lonely and develops a friendship, possibly romantic relationship with Amy. (I am not much into romance but if this helps the story I am willing to explore it.)

    Those are the two ideas I have right now. A friend suggested I do something with Amy's boyfriend plotting to get her back by any means possible but I don't think that would fit in with my story.

    My underlying theme is - real beauty has nothing to do with what you see or someone's physical appearance, real beauty has more to do with personality, actions and so forth.

    Amy's main motivation is that she wants to feel valued, wanted, safe, etc, all the things her boyfriend did not give her. She has battered woman syndrome right now, she feels like she's a fraud, that she really can't do anything right, etc. It's going to be over the course of the story that she gradually starts to feel valued, accepted, worthy, etc as she develops friendships with the ghosts. (Who she thinks are just friendly people for most of the story.)

    Any suggestions to help me develop this story out more?
     
  2. I.A. By the Barn
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    I.A. By the Barn A very lost time traveller Contributor

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    Well to go along with your theme I would select idea two, whether it is a friendship or a romance is up to you. However, I don't think a sub-plot is necessary, I would find the story interesting enough if little hints were given that Amy's aren't all they seem.
     
  3. NeeNee
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    NeeNee Member

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    Thank you. I am not totally certain I need a subplot either but I don't want the book to be boring either. I guess I need to have Amy interact with some quirky characters, that would probably help.
     
  4. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    Subplots aside, I have to say I like the sound of your main story.

    I think the key thing with subplots is to make sure they tie in with the main so they don't just feel like pointless padding - in something I'm working on, the mc's deal is figuring out where she belongs / who she belongs with, so two side characters' arcs are also about that in different ways and the villain's deal is that she doesn't know where she belongs and lashes out because of it. Since Amy's motivation is feeling valued/wanted/safe, maybe in idea one the woman she's helping out feels sort of abandoned by her birth family or like she's not important to her adoptive family? I'd also try to include this side character in the main plot to some degree, make sure the relationship isn't one-sided - just Amy helping her.

    It doesn't seem like you need any subplots, but I think one that's done well is almost always good and enriches the story. Though, I'm not a fan of romantic plots, so I'd downvote that one, personally.
     
  5. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    I would go with idea two. But I also agree with your friend that we should see some of your MC's ex trying to get her back. Especially if he is going to show up later in the story. I would blend some of that in while also developing the subplot for idea two. Then you've created some sort of love triangle and that's always interesting.
     
  6. Wolf Daemon
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    Wolf Daemon Active Member

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    As far as ideas go, if this is based around Amy and ghosts you could have a bunch of "Ghost Hunters"/Paranormal researchers show up looking for ghosts and all the ghost to try and hide which needs Amy to get rid of them or something along those lines.

    Hope it helps, honestly I'm better when it comes to horror stories, sci fi stories, and in general more grungy dark stories.
     
  7. hawls
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    hawls Active Member

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    I like idea no. 1.

    The adopted man or woman looking for their family also turns out to be a ghost from another cemetery from another state, possibly from where Amy has just escaped from. As two newcomers to the town they strike up a friendship/romance/it's complicated thing.

    When Amy's boyfriend shows up and goes possessive psycho stalker on her, her new ghost friend/subtextual love interest scares the living shit out of him and he's never seen again.
     
  8. NeeNee
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    NeeNee Member

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    I am toying with the idea that Amy's boyfriend put her into a coma or killed her and she doesn't realize that's what's going on. If I do that then my story becomes Homer's Oddyessy meets Alice in Wonderland. I am not sure how I would pull that off though but the I am bouncing the idea around.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2016
  9. hawls
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    hawls Active Member

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    Given the setting, your reader might anticipate this particular reveal. This is a post The Sixth Sense world we're living in. People are wise to these shenanigans.

    Doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. You'd just have to be very crafty.

    You say that the ghosts of the cemetery are projections of who they want to be, or who just different to their true nature in some way. What if ghost Amy was not the victim of an abusive boyfriend. What if she was the abusive boyfriend. What if after killing Amy, he killed himself, and his ghost manifested as his victim? Could be a very interesting way to explore these issues.
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    You have two plots, so I don't think that you need a third one. But there might be a pleasing symmetry in Amy providing some invaluable service to the ghosts, just as they provide an invaluable service to her. My first thought is that Amy succeeds in finding evidence that makes the case for making the graveyard a protected historic site, and saves it from destruction and development. So, she saves their home, and they give her a home.
     
  11. GNRoberts
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    GNRoberts New Member

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    Ooh love this story idea! I don't think a subplot is necessary but I do like Friend ghost scaring away Ex. Let me know if you need a beta reader
     

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