World, Writing, Wealth discussion

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message 1: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell | 687 comments I'm curious to gauge the group's opinion on subplots. Do you think the subplot of a novel needs to involve the protagonist? Can you have subplots unrelated to the main plot or do they need to be supportive of the main narrative?


message 2: by Denise (new)

Denise Baer | 593 comments Hi Eldon,

I don't think subplots need to involve the protagonist, but they should relate somehow to the main plot. If a subplot is put in without any connection to the main story, I'd assume it's filler. Everything in a novel needs to have purpose to enhance and advance the story, so I can't see the purpose of an unrelated subplot.

Just my little itty bitty opinion.

Denise


message 3: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell | 687 comments Denise wrote: "Hi Eldon,

I don't think subplots need to involve the protagonist, but they should relate somehow to the main plot. If a subplot is put in without any connection to the main story, I'd assume it's ..."


I appreciate your opinion as always Denise! And I'm leaning towards agreement with you :)


message 4: by Tori (new)

Tori | 11 comments I agree. Unless it has merit to the original story or impacts the character/someone the character knows in some way, I don't think subplots are necessary.


message 5: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10742 comments Hi Eldon. I would say it depends on what you mean by a sub plot. I often have what might at first seem to have different strands going along, with different characters (and so there is more than one "main character") and often in different places (in some of my SF I have had strands running on Earth and others on Mars, so they are on different planets) BUT I think they all have to be related in an obvious way to the theme of the story, and they have to come together in a way that the outcome of the story depends on all of them. I think of such a plot as one with spindly roots. I think having a totally disconnected subplot would be really bad.


message 6: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell | 687 comments Ian wrote: "Hi Eldon. I would say it depends on what you mean by a sub plot. I often have what might at first seem to have different strands going along, with different characters (and so there is more than on..."

Agree Ian. I think given my genre it's important to keep the focus on my MC


message 7: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10742 comments Eldon, I think it is more a matter of how comfortable the author is with subplots. My view is you should write what you think is important, and the way that makes you comfortable. However, some concepts make it far more important to stay with one MC. The most obvious is the detective story. If the story is, how is the guilty guy found, then you want to stay with unravelling the clues. Any view of the guilty party simply spoils the whole thing.


message 8: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2250 comments In real life, we have multiple things going on at once, so it adds a bit of depth to have subplots going on concurrently. On top of that, the main story can often be shaped by what is going on independently. I read too many space operas where the background universe is pretty straightforward, but that's never the case in our world. When I sit down to create a universe, I will sit back and think about what is going on to shape that universe - why is it the way it is...A lot of the politics and universal struggles may never make it into the book, but it gives me a backdrop, and in some cases, character points that shape individuals.


message 9: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell | 687 comments J.J. wrote: "In real life, we have multiple things going on at once, so it adds a bit of depth to have subplots going on concurrently. On top of that, the main story can often be shaped by what is going on inde..."

Excellent point about multiple things going on J.J. That's the route I decided to take with my new book - giving the MC numerous items on his agenda :)


message 10: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Hi Eldon,

Subplots can be tricky.

I strongly recommend (from a reader's perspective) that a subplot must develop the main narrative and main characters, otherwise it becomes a distraction that reduces the main narrative engagement and impact.

Used effectively, a good subplot can be used to add additional meat to the bones of the main narrative or shed light and shade on important characters.


message 11: by Alex (last edited Oct 18, 2017 11:53PM) (new)

Alex (asato) Eldon wrote: "Agree Ian. I think given my genre it's important to keep the focus on my MC"

What's the genre?

I'm still a little hazy on what qualifies as a subplot? Maybe the main plot is a detective is trying to stop an anti-government terrorist plot. A subplot is his high school daughter is fighting a drug addiction. She ends up being taken hostage by the terrorists in a drug deal gone wrong and her father, the detective, is at the scene.

But what if she's never taken hostage, but she's able to triumphantly overcome her drug addiction and check into a halfway house at the same time that her father arrests the terrorists. Is this also a subplot?


message 12: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan A subplot would be Lando Calrissian attempting to bargain with Darth Vader (very thinly done) to protect his gas mining business, and then throwing his lot in with the Rebels when Darth changes the game on him.


message 13: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell | 687 comments Graeme wrote: "A subplot would be Lando Calrissian attempting to bargain with Darth Vader (very thinly done) to protect his gas mining business, and then throwing his lot in with the Rebels when Darth changes the..."

Yeah that was a little thin wasn't it? You might even say they "told us" rather than "showed us" ;)


message 14: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell | 687 comments Alex wrote: What's the genre?"

Genre would be crime set in a dystopian future :)


message 15: by Joanna (new)

Joanna Elm | 145 comments A very simple idea incorporating a subplot is let's say, a mystery or thriller with the protagonist's romance being a subplot. The romantic interest will either help or hinder the protagonist's objective to solve the mystery -- or save the world. Like Alex says above, it could be a thriller with a detective fighting to stop a terrorist plot while daughter is battling drug addiction. In both Alex's examples, the daughter is a subplot, but I would make her involved in some way with helping to solve the main plot. She doesn't have to turn into superwoman, it could be as simple as her using a teen lingo phrase that points detective in the right direction or instructing her father about drugs which ties in with the main plot. In both my example and Alex's what you have is the intertwining of two genres: mystery/thriller with romance or mystery/thriller with social commentary.


message 16: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10742 comments I suppose subplots are also dangerous. In my "Miranda's Demons", it is perhaps more a collection of major subplots. It was modelled in part on "War and Peace", and follows several strands as they react to what becomes an alien invasion. The connecting part is they are all reacting to the invasion in different ways, but they also have to have lives after it, and since the invasion will destroy the political economic system before the aliens, they are also fighting amongst themselves for positions later. I can't recommend others try something like this because the sales are, well, disappointing.


message 17: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell | 687 comments Joanna wrote: " A very simple idea incorporating a subplot is let's say, a mystery or thriller with the protagonist's romance being a subplot...."

Great minds think alike Joanna :) I added a romantic subplot to help humanize my MC... on the advice of a wise alpha reader!!


message 18: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell | 687 comments So here's how Singularity breaks down after the latest plot planning I've done. 109 total scenes, 81 for the main plot, 16 for the antagonist's subplot, 15 for two other minor subplots dealing with a romantic interest for the MC and another leading into the next book.

Overall should be between 85k and 90k words. We'll see :)


message 19: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Joanna wrote: "A very simple idea incorporating a subplot is let's say, a mystery or thriller with the protagonist's romance being a subplot. The romantic interest will either help or hinder the protagonist's obj..."

Very well said.


message 20: by Joanna (new)

Joanna Elm | 145 comments Eldon wrote: "So here's how Singularity breaks down after the latest plot planning I've done. 109 total scenes, 81 for the main plot, 16 for the antagonist's subplot, 15 for two other minor subplots dealing with..."

I like the sound of that, Eldon!!!!


message 21: by Alex (last edited Oct 21, 2017 06:07PM) (new)

Alex (asato) Ian wrote: "I suppose subplots are also dangerous. In my "Miranda's Demons", it is perhaps more a collection of major subplots. It was modelled in part on "War and Peace", and follows several strands as they r..."

Were those "major subplots" similar in proportion to Bolton and Munro's in your novel A Face on Cydonia, which we read last month? If so, then I'd rather categorize them as major character arcs, which is what War and Peace does and does well.


message 22: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan It strikes me as perfectly valid to run multiple MC arcs through an intertwining narrative.

(Of course, one has to be able to execute it well...)


message 23: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10742 comments Alex, yes they are similar in proportion. The book is really about four intertwined stories, and it probably got that way because War and Peace is one of the books that has impressed me the most, and it almost certainly provided inspiration for MD.


message 24: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2250 comments There's another use I see quite a bit on TV these days where shows have the background arc while running the episode-of-week story. One aspect that sticks out for me is when that encapsulated story mirrors the struggle the main characters are going through in the arc. Fringe for example might see Olivia or Peter or both going through a personal struggle when they get a case dumped in their laps. The person they go after just conveniently happens to be dealing with a similar issue, and in solving the case, our heroes manage to see their problem in a new light and work through it.


message 25: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell | 687 comments J.J. wrote: "There's another use I see quite a bit on TV these days where shows have the background arc while running the episode-of-week story. One aspect that sticks out for me is when that encapsulated story..."

An excellent use of subplots actually :)


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