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How do you subplot?

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How and where do you introduce a subplot into your story, while still plotting in the basic seven point structure format? When I watching Dan Wells video, he plots in such a fashion where he thinks of plot A, plot B, and plot C being in like rows.

I guess it's more a question of how to keep them straight. As often I might have chapter one be the hook for the first subplot, and chapter II the hook for the second subplot, and so on.

I'm used to working with one external plot and one internal plot and that's it.

Initially I was going to include a couple of different subplots, regarding how my adult main character became -- well the adult main character, and then the subplot of their mother taking a vacation from her kids. But then when I wrote the third (which I'm considering calling the first draft), it seemed to turn out as this 10,000 word chapter book like thing without the subplots. (Which might be fine, other than I'm going for upper middle grade.)

And I'm in agreement, I think the problem might be sub-plotting.

I'm just not used to prose in general I guess, as I wrote poetry mainly before. (My first Upper MG short story started out as a 32 page poetry book about a single character shared throughout each poem.)
#1 - March 22, 2014, 07:36 PM
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Most of my subplots arise as I write my first draft. They just kind of reveal themselves in the right place when I come to them.

I'm only a semi-outliner, though, and I'm not yet published, so you should permaybehaps take my advice with a mountain of salt.
#2 - March 22, 2014, 08:04 PM

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Mine arise as a write, too (if I ever plotted out every detail beforehand I would never write, because my brain would consider the story done already! :) ) However, I tink there are things you could do to find subplots if you wanted to lay them out earlier than hey, lookie what just turned up in the writing! Do a little character sketch for each person. What's a bit of their backstory, what's their relationship too the main character and plotline? Imagine that person is the main character of their own story. What would their plot line be? And then figure out how it hooks into the main plotline. (Because with subplots, you want to stack their climaxes close to the main one--usually shortly before, so you can go out with a bang with your main one. Although I suppose you could have a single running gag that pays off in the denouement if you did it right.) This is usually the sort of thing I look for when I'm revising--I tend to actually find them the same way mirrorsandmagicfrogs does. But there is no one "right" way. :)
#3 - March 23, 2014, 05:52 AM

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I recommend reading SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder.

He says there is the A Plot: main character's internal and external journey where she goes after what she WANTS; and the B Plot: sub-story that starts later in the book but ends up teaching/giving the MC what she NEEDS.

If you're MC's main plot line is she wants to save the world from zombies because she wants to save the world, then maybe your sub plot is her growing connection to another survivor because she needs to make a human friend despite her fear of the zombie apocalypse. Just a bad example. :)
#4 - March 23, 2014, 07:25 AM
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Hey Sarah -
Like the others said, my subplots reveal themselves as I write. So even though I have a rough outline, the subplots usually come to light as I further understand my characters. Then I make sure those subplots weave into the story not only where they make sense but also enough so that they're not forgotten. So, for example, if I haven't visited subplot B for 3-4 chapters, it might be time to bring it in, if it makes sense to the plot as a whole. So far, my subplots feel so integral to my story, they almost tell me when they need to show themselves.
Loving this discussion.
#5 - March 23, 2014, 09:01 AM
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My subplots come about when I am thinking about my supporting characters, their relationship with my MC, and their own histories and motivations. Most of mine also reveal themselves more than are something that I have crafted. I find that my most of my subplots are best worked out in the two places where I have plenty of thinking time and no distractions: in the car and in the shower!
#6 - March 23, 2014, 10:39 AM

I actually just looked over the link, allowed me to find a way to think in terms of a twenty two page chapter by chapter outline. (That's another quirk, because I do each chapter like a mini story I have to plot each story individually.:/)

But I sort of figured out the problem. Thanks!^^
#8 - March 23, 2014, 07:43 PM
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I really like the book ANATOMY OF A STORY (John Truby). He talks a lot about your minor characters being mirrors of the major characters and using your subplots to compare and/or contrast with the main plot. (Jane Austen is a pro at that.)
Good luck!
#9 - March 24, 2014, 07:40 PM

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When i draw my main characters i draw my sub plot characters too.
So the same effort you take creating your main character you put in for you sub plot character. The moment you have done this. When you begin writing the sub plot characters will come and take its place just when you need him because you have already feeded him in your mind.

#10 - March 25, 2014, 01:55 AM

One bit I'm struggling with is, I have a good guy (supposedly), a bad guy, and then two anti-hero's. I'm wanting to figure out how to actually subplot around the anti-hero female characters. I guess I'll see what happens.
#11 - March 25, 2014, 08:03 PM
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