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Sub plots - Where to start them in a story?


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I am currently working on the outline to the plot to my next book.  

 

What I am struggling with here is when or how soon rather, to introduce the subplot. It is a 'converge sub plot' meaning that it will run parallel to the main one but dovetail part way through so that they merge into one. I have done the previously and it worked fine. The issue this time is identifying  how far into the main plot to start the subplot?

 

If I break into the main plot early, it might distract the reader/slow down the story.  If I leave it too late, I will have left it a good third in to the work to introduce new characters. 

 

I could split the book into parts with the POV changing from protagonist A to protagonist B, but again it would be a bit of stop-start-stop-start feel to it.  A last resort could be start writing the main subplot and see how it pans out.  My usually method is to write chapter by chapter POV rather than scenes, but doing scenes might work. 

 

Any suggestions, please. All welcomed.

 

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i have given some more thought to this matter and realised that the major problem is not so much when to bring the subplot but something completely different that relates to it.

 

In this story the protagonist is trying to locate a relative that they have never meet but know if through their mother. The address they have for the person is old and the mysterious relative has moved. BUT I want to write the story with their identify being revealed at some point.. To me there are three ways this might work.

 

1. They come to the rescue of the protagonist.

2. The protagonist discovers that they have died.

3. Another character realises the connection and reveals who the relative is to the protagonist.

 

In 1 & 3 the mysterious character would probably need to be in plain sight, but I just can't work out who they might be. And I can't have them related to my protagonist because of romantic subplot.

 

HELPPPPP Please. My brain is going in meltdown.🙃

 

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I kind of like Option Three, myself. But honestly, I think I'd have to know more about the story as a whole to be more helpful. This isn't the Hannah story, is it?

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Your dilemma sounds similar to what I'm doing in my book, I use both the POV of Simon and Alice. Simon is the MC and Alice is the main supporting character but their stories will merge, there is some indirect connection to begin with, but their worlds don't meet until chapter 6. There is also another character that is related to Alice, but in the story is only associated with Simon and the reader will be familiar with the character, but their connection won't be revealed until later, although the history of the character has already been alluded to by Alice herself while talking to other characters.

 

Your character could be a long lost childhood friend who briefly lived across the road or something and they got on with them like a house on fire.

Edited by Amosathar
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2 hours ago, Shamrock said:

1. They come to the rescue of the protagonist.

2. The protagonist discovers that they have died.

3. Another character realises the connection and reveals who the relative is to the protagonist.

 

As writers, we're allowed to experiment and see where it leads. Why not write some "prototype" scenes and see where your imagination goes? You might try writing a reallyreallyreally rough draft of each of the three scenes. Don't worry about setup details; just write and see if something interesting clicks. If you can think of two interesting ways they could come to the rescue, perhaps write two versions of that scene. Play around. Explore.

 

The point is to get your mind thinking in different directions, and finding a reason for you that one direction is better than another. We can's see your story or what kind of direction would excite you, so specific suggestions from us might be a bit presumptuous on our parts. But if you explore different possibilities, the answer might become clearer for the story you envision.

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One way to solve this is to add a third subplot, with someone who “coincidentally” crosses paths with those two people. You can hide the importance of things behind this third person’s story until it is time for the reveal. This third person could be someone who travels a lot for business, like a trucker, lawyer, consultant or salesperson who frequently attends trade shows. Or it could be a telemarketer who confuses two accounts and accidentally forwards information from one to the other.

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13 hours ago, Zee said:

This isn't the Hannah story, is it?

No.  It's the follow on book which Hannah is in.

 

11 hours ago, Wes B said:

The point is to get your mind thinking in different directions, and finding a reason for you that one direction is better than another.

Thanks Wes - I was toying with that idea of writing some scenes. So will try it.

 

5 hours ago, paulchernoch said:

One way to solve this is to add a third subplot,

 

I had considered having a person who is the link between both plots - so again I will explore that idea further.

 

Thank you everyone.

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5 hours ago, Shamrock said:

Yes, the Blake Syder Beat Sheet advise the same which would mean I introduce the subplot just after the inciting incident and game changer.

 

Blake Snyder and Syd Field... Dwight Swain and Derek Murphy and Craig Martelle for novels... The thing is there is always some tension between writing what you think is good and hopefully fresh versus writing to spec like all the write-to-market gurus tell you. The spec got to be what it is for a reason, because apparently it sells, but I think there is plenty of room to depart from it when you think that would make the story better.

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