Writing Tip Wednesday – Subplot me up, baby

Subplots, it sounds sort of — lesser, doesn’t it? It’s not the real plot; it’s the plot beneath. It’s not the master plot. It’s the plot below.

Subplots are actually made of awesome. They make your story richer, denser, more expansive.

What do subplots do for your story?

  1. They keep it interesting by adding detail, action, and character relations.
  2. Make things more complicated.
  3. Give the main theme and plot some backup.

Sub means ‘at a lower level of position,’ but the truth is that if you’re going to use a subplot in your story, you still have to pay attention to the evil thing and make sure that it has the same elements as your regular plot.

To have a successful subplot:

  1. They have to influence the main plot eventually.
  2. They have to connect to the characters in the main plot.
  3. They have to show a variety of experience.

Write Naked-3

And there are three main kinds of subplots:

  • Conflict – Ouch. In Star Wars the fact that Obiwan and Anakin had a whole big history before he became Darth makes their conflict tastier. Same thing with Kylo and Han and everybody else.
  • Expository – The stuff that’s making your plot happen. Oops. Made some hamsters with super predatory DNA that also enlarges them to the size of elephants at HAMSTER WORLD? Yep. There’s a subplot. Some evil guys want to use those hamsters for weapons because one of them was once had a beloved hamster killed by a raging cat? There you go.
  • Romantic – If you’re worried about your main characters getting together or maybe some secondary characters having that big sexy moment? You’ve got a romantic subplot.

Elizabeth Sims writes, “Think of subplots as simply strands of stories that support or drive the main plot.”

In a Writers Digest article, she details ways to add subplots.

The Seven Ways to Add Subplots are Basically:

1. The Isolated Chunk – a side trip

2. The Parallel Line 

3. The Swallowtail  

4. The In-and-Out 

5. The Bookend

6. The Bridge Character

7. The Clue


There you go – a subplot primer. Run with it, writers! Master those subs!



NEED is on sale for Kindle sales on Amazon for a mere $1,99 this month. Snatch it up! :

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ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

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The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.


How to Get Signed Copies: 

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For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

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You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought came out yesterday! Check it out, like and subscribe!


Author: carriejonesbooks

I am the NYT and internationally-bestselling author of children's books, which include the NEED series, FLYING series, TIME STOPPERS series, DEAR BULLY and other books. I like hedgehogs and puppies and warm places. I have none of these things in my life.

2 thoughts on “Writing Tip Wednesday – Subplot me up, baby”

    1. Thank you for writing it, Elizabeth! It was great.

      Would you like me to link your name (within the article) to your website?

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