As I’ve begun querying the first book in my chapter book mystery series, my mind has wandered back to the novel that I put on hold. While thinking through the plot, I realized I was too nice to my characters. They’re an intelligent lot, and I allowed many of their well-thought-out plans to succeed. But then, while reading The Lost Kingdom by Matthew J. Kirby, I realized that all the characters, despite being geniuses, had the worst luck in the world. If it could go wrong, it did. I then read Scouts by Shannon Greenland. The story was another fine example of Murphy’s law.
I decided to outline my novel so I could see where I needed to throw in some unfortunate events, misunderstandings, and disasters. That led to my thinking about the characters themselves and questioning whether or not their motivation was strong enough. And that made me wonder if the stakes were high enough. (This was a real-life example of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.) It all culminated in my pondering the purpose of subplots within a novel.
My dear friend Olivia Berrier, who is a fantastic storyteller, recently talked to me about how she edits through each subplot to make her story stronger. I decided that the issues with my novel might be due to an insufficient amount of subplots. So, I began researching what they are and how to create good ones. Here are some articles that I found very interesting and helpful. If you think your novel could use a little extra spice or more tension, maybe what you need is to add one or more subplots.
“How to Skillfully Use Subplots in Your Novel” by Jane Friedman
“Subplot ideas: 5 tips for writing better subplots” by Now Novel
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