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March 2008 Mother Hen's Bin

Plots and Subplots

By Lea Schizas


When you begin to think about your storyline some of the things to consider are:

  • The events to unfold in your story
  • How the subplots will coincide smoothly with the main plot
  • Your end resolution, finalizing all the subplots into one conclusion


Your plot reveals your character’s objective and how he will resolve the obstacles in his path. It also gives your reader an impression (through the process of resolving his obstacles) of your character’s personality.


The subplots are a sequence of events that build up to your climax, the area where your character has to make a turning point in his quest. He doesn’t have to resolve all of the obstacles but he must be shown to try in some way.


Mapping out the route of the subplots to be written in your story helps to keep them in a logical and chronological order. This adds tension and action, which helps to build interest in your reader.


For example: In my Young Adult fantasy/adventure I introduce my main character, Alexandra Stone, and place her in a situation where she discovers she’s a princess to a world she never knew existed.The fact her parents kept it secret angers her, so I’ve placed negative emotion in her to overcome before the end of the book. Her adventure begins when she finds herself transported to this new world. Along the way, she faces various obstacles to hurdle in order to achieve victory, reach her final destination, and return home safely. Within each obstacle, she discovers something about herself and her friends: bravery, friendship, courage, etc.


I use a mixture of dialogue and descriptive details to move the story forward. However, each scene follows and builds from the previous I’ve already set in motion. Nothing jumps out of sequence to confuse a reader. I build the suspense slowly, pulling in the reader. There are times where all seems lost for her and this helps once again to connect the reader to the character and keep them glued to find out how she’s going to get out of this muck. It’s at this low point I finally show a change occurring in Alexandra, show a side of her that begins to evaluate her surroundings, her opponent…the brave and daring Alexandra finally comes out after several close calls.


During the climax, a battle she must face, my twist to the story is introduced that moves the introductory foreshadowing under the spotlight and binds all the subplots together.


So, to summarize:


What is your storyline?

What subplots will you have?

How will you resolve them in the end?

What changes or how will your character change in the end?