Subplots are an essential element of any good story. They are often used to add complexity, suspense, and surprise to the narrative. Subplots are secondary storylines that are intertwined with the main plot of a story. They can involve the same characters or new characters and often overlap with the main plot. In this article, we will look at the literary definition of a subplot, provide some examples of subplots, and offer some tips for writing them.
What is a Subplot?
A subplot is a secondary storyline in a narrative. It is related to the main plot in some way but is not the primary focus of the story. Subplots can involve the same characters as the main plot or they can involve completely new characters. They often overlap with the main plot and can even have a direct impact on the outcome of the story.
Examples of Subplots
Subplots can be found in countless works of literature. Here are a few examples:
- In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Frodo’s quest to destroy the Ring is the main plot, while the subplot involves Aragorn’s quest to reclaim the throne of Gondor.
- In William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the two lovers’ forbidden love is the main plot, while the subplot involves the feud between their families.
- In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, the trial of Tom Robinson is the main plot, while the subplot involves Scout and Jem’s exploration of their town and its inhabitants.
Why Use a Subplot?
Subplots are a great way to add complexity and depth to a story. They can introduce new characters, add suspense, and even change the direction of the main plot. Subplots can also help to keep the reader engaged and make the story more interesting.
How to Write a Subplot
Writing a good subplot involves a few key steps.
1. Brainstorm Ideas
Take some time to brainstorm ideas for your subplot. Think about the characters and settings of your story and consider how a subplot could fit in. Make sure it’s related to the main plot in some way.
2. Develop the Subplot
Once you have an idea for the subplot, you can start to develop it. Think about the characters, their motivations, and the conflict that will arise. How will the subplot tie into the main plot?
3. Introduce the Subplot
Introduce the subplot early in the story. Give the reader some information about the characters and their motivations. Make sure to provide enough detail so that the reader can understand how the subplot relates to the main plot.
4. Incorporate the Subplot
The subplot should weave in and out of the main plot throughout the story. Make sure to include enough detail so that the reader can tell how the subplot is related to the main plot.
5. Resolve the Subplot
The subplot should be resolved by the end of the story. Make sure to include a satisfying conclusion that ties the subplot to the main plot.
6. Use Foreshadowing
Foreshadowing is a great way to add suspense to your subplot. Use hints, clues, and other elements of the story to hint at what will happen in the subplot.
7. Keep it Interesting
Make sure to keep the subplot interesting. Add twists, surprises, and unexpected elements to keep the reader engaged.
8. Show, Don’t Tell
Avoid summarizing the events of the subplot. Instead, show the events as they unfold in the story.
9. Don’t Overwhelm the Reader
Make sure not to overwhelm the reader with too many subplots. One or two subplots should be enough to keep the reader engaged.
10. Edit and Revise
Once you have written the subplot, take the time to edit and revise it. Make sure that it fits in with the main plot and that it is interesting and engaging.
Subplots are an essential element of any good story. They can add depth, complexity, and suspense to a narrative. When writing subplots, it’s important to brainstorm ideas, develop the subplot, introduce it early, incorporate it into the main plot, and resolve it. Foreshadowing and keeping the subplot interesting are also key. Finally, make sure to edit and revise the subplot to make sure that it fits in with the main plot. Subplot is a common literary device used to intensify the main narrative of a work. It is a secondary storyline which is intertwined with the main plot of a particular story, creating an intricate web of interworking events, themes, and characters.
A subplot serves to amplify the main plot and often presents an opposing perspective by providing a foil to a particular situation. This can be to show conflicting opinions, mentorship, resolution of an unresolved problem, or even a different career or lifestyle. It’s a way to add depth to the main story and create tension or suspense.
Subplots vary in length and complexity, and can range from a single scene to an entire book in length. Examples of subplots can be found throughout literature, such as in many of Shakespeare’s works. In Romeo and Juliet, for example, the subplot of the Nurse’s relationship with Juliet is a key story element, providing a foil to the young couple’s romance and adding comedic moments throughout.
When writing with a subplot, it is important to ensure that it is truly integral to the overall story. Writers should pay attention to its genesis, character motivations, and other elements to ensure a seamless integration with the main plot. Other tips include:
– Make sure that the subplot is proportional to the main plot in terms of pacing and length.
– Tie the subplot and main plot together in some way, either through symbolism or a shared character or theme.
– Ensure that the subplot stands alone, with its own resolution and set of consequences.
– Introduce the subplot naturally, rather than shoehorning it into the narrative.
Subplots can be a great tool to add interest and complexity to a story, but they must be handled carefully. By following these tips, authors can make sure that their subplots are integral to the main story and serve an important purpose.