can write a book - but it takes something special
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Lee Masterson's step-by-step guide can show you
Weave Sub-Plots Into Your
By Lee Masterson
times have you started work on a great novel only to run
out of steam 50 pages into your work?
The story stalls, the idea goes flat, the characters seem
to stare back at you saying What now, boss?
In some cases it might be that you didnt spend
enough time planning how your characters are going to get
from beginning to end and that red-hot plot you were so
excited about just fizzles out.
In other cases it might be that the idea wasnt big
enough to fill out a novel or maybe you simply dont
have enough conflict in your story so far and want to
liven things up a bit.
Weaving a second plot through your main storyline not
only helps you to uncover new facets of your characters
but can help raise conflict levels and create tension.
You also have the opportunity to create a new depth to
your original story, building layers of complexity that
can force your fictional world into three dimensions.
If you create a sub-plot that has absolutely nothing to
do with the main plot youll even force your reader
to keep turning pages just to see how they gel together.
Of course your reader already knows they will end up tied
together in a neat little bow by the end of the book
otherwise there would be no reason for the new
plot thread but the reader will want to know how
they end up intertwined and so will keep reading to find
Your sub-plot doesnt need to be a romantic thread
braided through the original story, although this is one
of the more common sub-plot tactics used in many novels.
You might decide to have your main secondary character
working with your protagonist openly, but secretly
harboring a desire to thwart the heros efforts at
every turn because he has other things on his agenda. You
might decide to introduce a completely new plot to your
novel that has nothing to do with the first and weave
No matter what you decide to add for your sub-plot or how
separate they are, its important that something
within the sub-plot contains a vital element that is
necessary to complete the main plot.
Sub-plots are used very effectively in many fantasy
epics. The characters are all focused on a primary goal
or quest, but each character has different things going
on that either impede or interfere with the main plot.
Many horror novels have a light romantic sub-plot running
through them to help relieve the pent-up tension created
during intense horror scenes.
So how do you weave a sub-plot thread through your
existing novel plot?
The easiest method of interweaving a new sub-plot through
an existing plot is to create alternate chapters showing
the viewpoint of another character. Its through
this characters eyes that the new parts of the
thread are shown to the reader.
When you first introduce your sub-plot it will seem to
run parallel to your main storyline, but throughout your
novel it should cross and sometimes even overtake your
main plot until they meet at the end during the final
Even though you know where theyll end up, your
reader shouldnt see it coming until the point where
they finally intersect and its revealed why the
sub-plot was the secret ingredient needed in order to
finish the main plot all along.
Take a closer look at your current novel and see if you
can find a sub-plot to throw at a secondary character
that will help confuse and hinder your hero until the
final scenes. Youll be surprised at the new life
you can breathe into a stalled novel.
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