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My sub-plot involves...

  1. My mc

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  2. Another character

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  3. A setting

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  4. A connected story

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  5. An unconnected story

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  1. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Style How you use Sub-plots?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by sprirj, Oct 31, 2015.

    I was um-ing and ah-ing about where to post this, and settled for general writing, because it is quite a broad question. Previously my wip was a straight forward 1st person narrative, but I got stuck, and now I'm considering adding sub-plots, firstly it would do wonders for my word count, but also I think it would help with character development of the minor roles (ie all the characters who are not my mc), and also my plot development, adding tensions, and complications. However, it comes with its own obstacles, I would have to write out of 1st person or make it clear that I'm no longer with my mc. I also want my sub-plots to add something to the story. The film 'mister lonely' springs to mind, as this has a sub plot, that is so much better than the rest of the film, and really adds nothing to the main film. Another example would be 'ice age' the sabre toothed squirrel story is so much more involving than the main plot, and they don't really add anything to each other. I like to hear thoughts and feedback, or how you approach your own sub-plot elements, that might be able to inspire me how I may improve my focus.
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    It can be jarring to suddenly switch POVs in a 1st person narrative but equally it can be refreshing and add life to the book. It's all in the execution. I would be inclined to have the sub-plot in third person though, just to remove any confusion.

    I think sub-plots should certainly be connected to the main story. They don't have to contribute directly to the plot if they aid in character development, but having random other stories (like the sabre toothed squirrel) will probably come off as weird in a serious book. In Ice Age, the squirrel was really just a running joke rather than a sub-plot. I haven't seen Mister Lonely.

    I don't have many sub-plots - my genre typically doesn't - but the few I have act as drivers that either bring the MCs together or force them apart. So although they may not be part of the main plot, they certainly aren't disconnected. Every scene is shown from one of the MC's POVs, though in third person, but that's certainly not the only way to do it.

    It's hard to give you specific suggestions without knowing more about your story, what sub-plots you have in mind, and what you want to achieve with them. They can be great for adding tension but they can also seem like info-dumps.
     
  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    In one of my freakier stories about a relationship between a teacher and his student the main plot was a growing attraction from the mc ( the teacher ) for the fmc ( the student ) and his mental disintegration as things start to happen. He was an unreliable narrator so the reader was never sure if the relationship was
    quite what was being shown.

    Because it was first person pov it seemed impossible to have a subplot but I seemed to manage it. The teacher had issues with his family who had abandoned him after the suicide of his wife, and he was trying to worm his way back in. That was one subplot the other subplot involved his school life in which the fmc was having psychological battles with both another teacher and a bullying student. Revealed through eavesdropping, overheard conversations and notes. The subplot wasn't just to broaden the characters as all the plots eventually collide when the fmc convinces the teacher that they must get rid of the bullies. And one of the family members discovers his actions with the student.

    I usually don't have a subplot unless it has something to do with the main plot ... eventually.
     
  4. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    Each character in your story has a story to tell. They have their own histories, motivations and aspirations. The setting can also change and develop. Think of the movie Titanic; the ship has a story. The stories react to each other and move each other along. Each doesn't have to be described in detail. If you're writing in first person, your point of view is limited to your main character. In the real world, people find out what others are up to, so including such communication shouldn't be a problem.
     

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