As I learned and grew as a writer, I went back over and over my novel to add more layers to it. In this series I'm writing about each of my 'layers' in the hope it will help someone who is starting out. This week we look at subplots.
One of the main reasons my story wasn't long enough to be a novel was because there were no subplots. Just like real life, there should be lots of things going on at the same time. Your heroine may be facing a crisis in her marriage, which is the main story, but she still has to cope with the other aspects of her life, like situations in work or with friends or neighbours.
As I said in previous weeks, my original novel had no substance to the characters. As I developed them, I also discovered their relationships, and who didn't get on with whom. Working through the new dynamics between the crew gave me some subplots already, and I found some new ideas too. Then they needed to be threaded through the original story. This changed some original scenes and sparked new ideas. The novel was evolving all the time.
If you're writing a standalone novel you need to make sure most of your subplots are resolved by the end of the story. Readers don't like untidy endings, it leaves them feeling unsatisfied. If you're writing a series you need some hooks to persuade readers to buy the next book, so one or more of your subplots can be left to be resolved in the sequel. It might even lead to the major story arc of the sequel.
Other posts in this series:Introduction