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SUBPLOTS ARE SUBTLY NOTICED BY THE MAIN CHARACTER
Whether it’s a sibling in love, a best friend with money problems, or a teacher who perhaps isn’t as credible as they thought, strong subplots are noticed by the main character. Even if the main character gets it wrong, missuspects, or ignores what they see or hear about the subplot, allow your main character to notice it.

SUBPLOTS ADD BACKGROUND
Whether it’s childhood abuse, a past broken heart, a missing sibling, a long-lost best friend. The traumas and circumstances of minor characters add depth to their actions and connections with the main character.

SUBPLOTS CAN ADD INTEREST TO OTHERWISE BORING SCENES
Your character has to be at home for a few months. There’s weeks spent in the library. Someone needs a bath. Whatever it is, those boring “filler” scenes can be just the place to clue your reader in on a hidden romance, a connection to a character’s parents, etc.

SUBPLOTS CAN BE THE EXPLANATION OF ANOTHER CHARACTER’S IMPORTANCE
Going back to Harry Potter, Neville Longbottom is a great example of this. His history of tortured parents, growing up with his grandmother, his forgetfulness even, all are the tip of the iceberg that is the subplot of Neville Longbottom. His importance to Harry and Harry’s importance to him become clearer as you learn more of his story. And the more you learn of the story of Neville’s parents, the more you learn his importance to Harry.

If you’re balancing several subplots, it is helpful to create guidelines for yourself so you don’t lose track of important pieces.

The best sort of guideline is an outline. When you have several subplots and your main plot, drawing out an outline is a great way to keep track of important points. Draw a line for your main plot first and mark significant events along it. Then draw additional lines for your subplots, overlapping them with your main plot line as they need to.

This not only allows you to see the overlaps but it will help you know which loose ends need to be tied up, and if you’re writing a series, can determine which subplots last only one book or need a few more books to flesh out.

Once your story is finished, send it along to an editor who’s only job is to look for the subplots and ask the important questions about them, This will ensure you answer the questions you need to and engage your readers in the best way.

Have you incorporated subplots into your WIP? Tell me about them in the comments!

Cheers!

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