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2 Posts tagged with the subplot tag

You write with passion. You rewrite with purpose. That is to say, your first draft is spun with reckless abandon. The words click onto the page as fast as you can tap your fingers across the keyboard. They are delivered from a place that is located deep within the right hemisphere of your brain. You write what you see. You don't think about what you write. Rewriting? Not so much.


The left hemisphere of your old grey matter gets involved during rewrites and starts to apply logic to the free flow of thought that had created such a beautiful, wandering mess. Your top priority during rewrites is to keep everything that has a purpose in the story. Everything else, no matter how well written, must go.


While all the elements of a story are interconnected, as you rewrite, you might want to give each chapter a "Purpose Rating" and grade each element separately on a scale from one to five. Anything that gets less than a three should be cut.


Establish your "Purpose Rating" by considering these elements:


  • Plot purpose: Does the material move the plot forward or shed light on certain story elements that solidify the foundation of the plot?

  • Character purpose: Does the material give relevant insight into aspects of character? Does it give your character depth that steers away from clichés? Does it provide a compelling piece of character development that is unexpected and new, without being distracting?

  • Setting purpose: Does the material set the proper mood? Does it paint a picture that fits the theme and genre of your story? Does it break the rules without disrupting the story?

  • Dialogue purpose: Is the material necessary? Some dialogue is used as an "exploratory" device. Meaning, when it was first written it may have been connective tissue for an upcoming subplot or character revelation. In a lot of cases, those future elements either never materialize or are eliminated. Be on the lookout for these holes.

  • Subplot Purpose: Is your subplot a minor detour from the story or a complete diversion? If it's too far removed from the plot, it's doing more harm than good.

You will find that rewriting is a much harder process than writing. It should be. You're applying logic to an artistic endeavor. You have to be ruthless in your cuts. Applying a "Purpose Rating" may help you look at your story more objectively.   


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.



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The Purpose of Subplots

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We all know subplots are basically a device to give your story a word count that will make it a book-worthy document, right? Wrong. Subplots weren't created to fatten up stories to please consumers. At least, they shouldn't be.


Here is what subplots can really do for your book:


  • Subplots allow you to add depth to your characters. Your plot may revolve around a murder mystery, but a subplot involving a troubled marriage or a struggle with alcoholism gives you the opportunity to dive deeper into a character's life. Your characters have a place in your plot and can even drive the plot. Giving them subplots gives them their own place in the story.

  • Subplots can serve as a thread to tie books in a series together. A subplot that snakes through the background of one book can grow into the main plot for the next book. It gives your story layers that can shift from book to book.

  • Subplots give your story a reality that would otherwise be vacant. Real life is messy. Books are a series of carefully constructed events. Subplots give the illusion of chaos. They make things seem real-world crazy and messy.

I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't use subplots to beef up your book. I am, however, suggesting you don't consider upping your word count as beefing up your book. Readers will see it for what it is: padding. Subplots should be used to give your characters and story depth. That is how you beef up your book.


-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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