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How to Weave a Subplot into the Structure of Your Novel

This week we’re going to explore how novelists can layer a series of scenes over the foundational structure that’s already in place. We’ve been spending some weeks going over the ten key scene types that most writing instructors would agree are the important ones to lock in.

You can download this handy chart that defines what these ten scenes are and where, approximately, they should be positioned in your story. While it’s perfectly fine to veer off this structure, and many novels do so successfully, this lines up with what most great novels—and films and plays—follow, regardless of genre.

So what we’re going to be doing for a number of weeks is look at the next ten scenes that you can build atop those primary scenes. I’ve been likening this process to filling a jar with rocks. You want to put the big rocks in, then the pebbles, then the sand, followed by water in order to fill a jar fully.

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Layering a Subplot into Your Novel

We’ve looked at plot twists these last couple of weeks because they are so useful to have in novels. Regardless of the genre you’re writing in, a great plot twist can strengthen your story and make it much more exciting than if you don’t have any.

Warning: this is a long, meaty post, but I’m going deep into one way you might layer your next ten scenes over your ten foundational scenes. You might want to settle in with a bowl of popcorn and a latte for this one.

Two of the ten foundational scenes in your novel should be some kind of twist. If you haven’t downloaded the chart showing the first ten scenes of my 10-20-30 scene builder method, get yours here. We’ve discussed those ten scene types—some in more depth than others—but I hope you now have a good feel for what they are and how and why they work in your story.

While you can build off those ten key scenes in a multitude of directions—and that’s what my next few Monday posts will be demonstrating—to ensure you have a strong foundation for your story, it’s best to work on those first ten. Continue Reading…

How Novelists Can Work Plot Twists into Their Stories

Plot twists are important and powerful elements in a novel. We took a quick look at twists last week, and I explained that you can have these twists in various places in your story, and they can vary in strength.

One novel may have lots of small twists that are basically complications and obstacles the protagonist encounters. But often you’ll have one or two huge twists that wrench the story, and those are terrific when done well.

So what do you need to keep in mind when creating a plot twist?

Twists are all about redirection. Going against expectations.

Think about what readers are expecting and hoping for at a given moment in the story. Then keep twisting the story into new directions that stun and delight them. Continue Reading…

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