1. jmh105

    jmh105 Active Member

    Apr 14, 2015
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    United States

    How can I distinguish my two subplots from each other?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by jmh105, Jan 9, 2018.

    Hi, guys,

    I have a problem: two of my subplots are virtually the same, just with different characters. The protagonist even gives a similar response each time! I'm trying to figure out how to diversify the content so that the subplots don't seem repetitive, while also maybe alternating between responses from the protagonist.

    The main premise of the story is that the protagonist is a teen who joins a gang that robs others for a living. He comes from a dysfunctional family, so he wants to cling to this new family. This is where he encounters relationship problems as an outside party, while also facing how he handles his own relationships.

    Subplot #1: Characters A and B, girlfriend and boyfriend, are often fighting. The protagonist is approached by Character C, who expresses his concern about Characters A and B--especially B. This concern involves info C knows about A, but B doesn't know: a long time ago, Character A planned on robbing Character B before asking him to join. C has been holding this in because he doesn't want to upset B by telling him about his girlfriend's original intentions. The protagonist than gives C advice to approach A to resolve any doubts about her character. This prompts A to grow and the protagonist to begin to feel like he has a place within the gang.

    I have an idea to maybe have the protagonist get more directly involved by talking to A himself, but then she would figure out quickly that the protagonist is presumptuous and nosy as heck and C has been spilling info. That may open a new can of worms I may or may not want to get into....

    Subplot #2: Character D is the protagonist's best friend and basically a step-in-brother for him. D is not a gang member, so the protagonist arranges hangouts whenever D isn't busy. This character eventually helps the protagonist find a way out of the gang without having to lose his friendship with it.

    Either way, the subplot in question has to do with D's relationship with another person, his boyfriend, Character E. Though they live in the same house, they have always been too busy to spend time together, so they haven't talked in so long. Similarly, the protagonist gives D his two cents, but eventually takes a more hands-on approach to the situation: he gets to the point where he makes the tough decision to stop seeing D so D could have more time to see E. Because of the protagonist's clinginess, this decision is supposed to be a sign of maturation as a character and as a person.

    So both of these subplots help the protagonist help the character in some way, but they seem too similar to each other--and may have their own problems that I may not even realize. What do you guys think I should do?

    If you need more clarification, ask away! My explanations can be poor, especially with letter names for the characters. :D
  2. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

    Aug 12, 2015
    Likes Received:
    London, UK
    I found that hard to follow (not your fault, just a lot of characters to get my head round!) but they don't sound identical to me. And both of them sound interesting - I can see so much potential for tension, which is great.

    It already seems to me that the two subplots end up in different directions. In the first, the protagonist helps his friends work through an issue and it ends with him feeling closer to them. In the second, he loses someone close to him. Why not take advantage of that and have the different outcomes be part of the reason that he gets more and more embroiled in gang life? He loses his closest friend outside of the gang while feeling more like home within it.

    It sounds like your book is all about relationships, and perhaps showing the kind of dysfunctional family that a gang can be (at least, in fiction's romanticised versions of gangs) so these subplots fit perfectly.
    jmh105 likes this.

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