Tag Archive - plots and subplots

The Key to Creating Believable Plots and Subplots

On Throwback Thursday, we’re looking at excerpts from past posts on Live Write Thrive that tie in with our exploration on scene and novel structure.

From Layers and Layers of Plot, Oh My!

Novelists focus heavily on plot, and rightly they should. Your novel needs a well-crafted and believable plot. A good story will have one. A great story will have many plot layers. You could call them subplots, but I find it helps to think of them as layers because of the way they work in your story.

Plot layers come in all thicknesses of importance, and if they are designed carefully, they will make your story a rich one with unique and lasting flavors that will linger long after your reader finishes your book.

One way that may help you in developing and deepening your plot layers is to think about your own life. You have some big goals—long-term, long-range goals, or maybe even just one—on the horizon at the moment. Maybe it’s to finish college and get that degree. Maybe it’s to start a family and create your dream life with your spouse. In a novel, that might be your main plot, which features the visible goal your protagonist is trying to reach. This is the overarching plot that all the other plot layers will sit under. But just as with a multilayer cake, when you take that bite, the different flavors of the layers should complement each other and create a delightful overall taste.

 Life as Layers

As that “plot” plays out in your life, other things encroach or dovetail that goal. You may be dealing with some personal issue—like a recurring health problem or a former boyfriend who keeps showing up against your wishes. You may also be dealing with trivial things like trying to decide what color to paint your bedroom, and the paint store guy, who’s completely incompetent, can’t get the color right. Continue Reading…

How to Add Meaningful Subplots to Your Novel

When I first started considering writing novels, I found the idea of subplots daunting. I knew I needed to put them in, but I really had no idea how, why, or in what manner subplots played a role in novel structure.

Subplots are everywhere. We see them in the movies we watch, and they are usually in every novel we read. We may instinctively know how they work in story structure. I always thought they were inserted to give some depth to the overall story, whether movie or novel. And that is one purpose for a subplot. But writers need to be careful not to throw any old subplot into a story in the hope that it will just add some interest. If you keep in mind that everything that goes into your novel must serve the advancement and complication of the main plot, you will fare well. Continue Reading…

Mastering the Passing of Time in Novel Scenes

Scene structure is an essential concept writers must grasp in order to construct solid, fluid novels. I chose that word fluid because I feel readers want something akin to a smooth read. I don’t mean specifically a linear story in which every moment passes in time the same way. I mean the story being told is easy to follow because the scenes string together in a clear flow of time, each giving the sense of real time passing, right here, right now.

This may be a tricky concept for some to grasp, so bear with me a bit. I’ve written some posts in the past on showing time passing in novels. In a film, there are lots of techniques available to the screenwriter and filmmaker to make time appear to slow down or speed up. But not so easy to do with a novel.

Novelists have to use creative ways of wording to show these same effects. But scenes, essentially, are all about showing significant action happening in real time—the way time passes for us as we go through our lives. The variable, however, is linked to the POV character who is experiencing and showing the scene through her eyes. Continue Reading…

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