The “What is Plot?” Series: Subplots (Part Five)

Photo courtesy of mpclemens.

Thanks for joining me for the fifth and final part of my series known as “What is Plot?” I’ve never done any type of blog series before, but I think this one turned out well for a first-timer. It’s been fun and I hope to be able to do another sometime in the near future. This last part is about subplots, so without further ado, let’s get to it!

It’s no secret that authors sometimes like to tell more than one story within a novel (look at the novels by Elizabeth Kostova). Running alongside the main plot of the story are subplots about the main character (or other characters). Authors use subplots to add suspense/mystery/obstacles to the story they’re telling. A subplot is not just limited to adding suspense/mystery/obstacles, though. Subplots are very good for adding past information (that, actually, is how I’m using a subplot in my own novel).  Traditionally, two types of subplots exist:

  • Hinged: This type of subplot, through the course of the story, becomes part of the main plot.
  • Parallel: In this type of subplot, the story switches between the main plot and a subplot. Here, the details from a subplot can affect the plot. The two are usually used to dramatize each other.

Subplots almost always support the protagonist of your story and should rarely (though, there are exceptions) be introduced at the beginning of a novel. Regina Brooks, author of “Writing Great Books for Young Adults,” has this piece of advice: “Subplots can add layers of complexity to your novel and help add color and story to your characters. But be careful how you use them. Remember they’re subplots—subservient to your main plot. Your main plot should always come first.”

[What this series helpful? How could it be improved? If there is an aspect of writing that you’d like me to cover in a series such as this one, please leave a comment.]

Reading Challenge: R.I.P. Challenge V at Stainless Steel Droppings!

It’s September 1st, which means it’s time for the R.I.P. Challenge over at Stainless Steel Droppings! I’ve been watching how this reading challenge unfolds for the last two years, but am finally taking the plunge and participating this year, despite grad school and other such craziness. The challenge runs from September 1st through October 31st.

The Details According to Carl (the host):

You can read: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, and/or Supernatural.

There are two goals for the challenge:

  • Have fun reading.
  • Share that fun with others.

There are different levels of participation (we all function on different levels of “busy,” so options are a plus!):

  • Peril the First: Read four books that you think fit the broad definition of scary.
  • Peril the Second: Read two books that you think fit the definition of scary.
  • Peril the Third: Read one book that you think fits the definition of scary.
  • Short Story Peril: Read any short stories during the length of the challenge.
  • Peril on the Screen: Watch any movies, TV shows, etc you think fit the definition of scary.

Carl asks that if you review anything you read for the challenge, please link to it on his review site.

What I’m Doing:

My Reading List:
“The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova
“Misery” by Stephen King

My Reading List:
“Poe’s Children: The New Horror: An Anthology” by Peter Straub
“Four Past Midnight” by Stephen King
Selected Short Stories by Edgar Allan Poe

My Movie List:
“Secret Window”
“The Amityville Horror (1979)”
“The Exorcism of Emily Rose”
“The Masque of Red Death”
“Halloween (1978)”
“The Lost Boys”

Want to Participate?

If you’re interested, hop on over to Carl’s blog and sign up! Happy Reading!