Posts Tagged ‘subplots’

Remembering Theme When Lost

Good afternoon, Squiders! We’ll start our next nonfic topic about coming up with ideas and expanding them into something workable next week. I still need to finish outlining the topic before we get started.

But, while we’re talking about that, I’m setting up a new list for authors who’d like to get writing tips and advice in their inbox. You can join here. I’m still tailoring it, so if you’d like to see specific things, let me know!

Now, onto theme. You guys know I’ve been working on rewriting the first book of a fantasy trilogy. It was going okay, but about a month ago it fell apart again. Part of that was from getting ready for the conference, but it hasn’t gotten better. Admittedly it’s been harder to get writing time the last few weeks (though that should be done now) but even when I could have been potentially writing, I’ve been avoiding it.

(Unless it’s been unrelated, such as working on query letters or whatnot.)

It’s been very disheartening. In fact, this morning, I set a deadline for switching to another project if I can’t get my act together.

But I still dragged myself to a coffee shop with the intent of getting something done. And I opened my draft. And I re-read what I have of the current chapter. And then I thought I might go back and re-read what I have of the draft (about 48K) to try and help give me some idea where I was going, despite my outline and the fact that I did that last week (and it obviously didn’t help).

And then my laptop died (the battery’s shot, so if I accidentally knock the power cord it turns off) so I had a few minutes to stare at thin air while it got its act together, and I decided I should go back and look at my theme for the story.

The theme is something along the lines of “Be true to yourself.” Both of the main characters’ internal conflicts stem from this theme, and their gradual acceptance of it is pivotal to the completion of the plot arc over the three books.

And just by reminding myself what my theme was, I started to get some ideas about where to go.

I think that it’s easy to get lost in the middle of the draft, especially since right now I’m in new territory that hasn’t existed in previous drafts. And sometimes, reminding yourself of the point, of why you’re writing something, can be enough to help you re-center.

So hopefully this will be enough to get me back on track.

(While going back through my notes, however, I also noticed that a major subplot has been somewhat dropped. I mean, it’s still in there, but the pacing is off on it. So I think my first order of business is to go back through what I have and fix the pacing on it, which should make where I am–the midpoint–flow appropriately. Without this subplot, one of the major reversals can’t happen, which is, quite frankly, probably leading to a lot of the issues I’m currently experiencing.)

What helps you when your story feels like it’s running into a brick wall, Squiders?

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What is a Subplot?

We all know what a plot is, don’t we, Squiders? The plot is what happens. It’s the series of events that takes us from the beginning to the end.

So, what’s a subplot?

A subplot is a series events that enhances the main plot.

So, what does that mean?

It means that a subplot gives the plot or the characters more depth. They can show why characters other than the main character are doing what they’re doing, what makes the main character the person to do the job, or create additional obstacles for the characters to overcome.

But it is important to note that subplots are directly related to the main plot. They must connect to it somehow.

In other words, they don’t stand alone. They don’t make sense without the main plot. If a “subplot” does, it’s not a subplot. It’s a stand alone plot, and it’s very difficult to pull off multiple plots in the same work. Mostly it just confuses people. In fact, if you have a “subplot” that doesn’t relate at all to your main plot, people are going to wonder why it’s there at all.

Like a plot, subplots need to make sense. They need to have a beginning, a progression, and an end. If you don’t have an end, you’re going to have dangling plot strings, and people will wonder what the point was.

Subplots also need to have less importance than the main plot. If they don’t, well, maybe your plot is in the wrong place.

Any thoughts on subplots, Squiders? Tips?