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Subplots: Really Useful Links by Lucy O’Callaghan

Writing.ie | Resources | Essential Guides | Links for Writers
Lucy O'Callaghan

Lucy O’Callaghan

Although a subplot is a secondary plot within your story, they play an important role. They can help to develop your characters, themes, and settings. Not only do they keep the characters and events interesting, but subplots can also add layers. They can introduce complications that have a knock-on effect on the main thread of the storyline.

‘Subplots bring realism to your main plot simply by existing – by interrupting the flow. Life doesn’t move forward all at once. Interruptions happen, change rushes in, we juggle three or ten balls at once. Readers don’t expect continuous narratives.’ Elizabeth Sims.

A subplot is there to enhance your story from black and white to colour. So, what makes a good subplot? What are the dos and don’ts when it comes to writing a subplot? I have put together a list of articles and podcasts that I hope will assist you with writing your subplots.

  1. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-add-subplots-to-your-story#quiz-0

Masterclass says that subplots can help to create compelling stories and that a good subplot raises the stakes for the main character. This article gives you 3 reasons to use a subplot in your writing, explains 4 types of subplots, and gives you 6 tips for writing better subplots.

  1. https://www.nownovel.com/blog/subplot-ideas-better-subplots/

Discussed here are romantic, conflict, and expository subplots. Subplots can help to keep the narrative tension high and examples are given of what kind of subplots can do this. They advise the writer to use subplots to weave in the backstory more naturally.

  1. https://btleditorial.com/2020/04/01/incorporating-subplots-in-your-novel/

Crafting a subplot falls into four main categories: mirror, contrast, complications, and romantic. This article explains these and gives the writer some top tips on incorporating subplots into your story.

  1. https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-fiction/7-ways-to-add-great-subplots-to-your-novel

Writer’s digest offers 7 methods to add great subplots to your story complete with examples and advises you to think of subplots as strands of stories that support or drive the main plot.


  1. https://writingexcuses.com/2009/08/16/writing-excuses-season-3-episode-12-subplots/

This podcast talks about how subplots can help take the load off the main story. Having something funny, mysterious, or romantic can still be tense enough to keep the pace of the story going and introduce important elements to the main story, quite often before it becomes obvious to the reader.

  1. https://www.well-storied.com/blog/the-dos-and-donts-of-crafting-subplots

The well storied podcast discusses the different types of subplots, demonstrating with examples. Three key tips are given to bear in mind as you develop your story’s subplot: Your subplot must serve a narrative purpose; remember that a subplot is still a plot, and you need to make sure the subplot knows its place.

  1. https://www.selfpublishingauthorspodcast.com/ep122-subplots/

SPA Girls podcast talks about why you should be using subplots in your story and the different types to consider. It could be the difference between having a boring one-dimensional story and creating an interesting layered story.

  1. https://nancipanuccio.com/68/

Using examples from Harry Potter, Anna Karenina, and The Godfather II, this podcast explores how to construct subplots that bring your story alive.

Just like the main plot, subplots should follow a narrative arc of conflict, crisis, and resolution. The key to an effective subplot is how you work it into the main plot. If you find it taking over the main plot then maybe it needs its own story. I hope this week’s column is helpful to you. Enjoy weaving your subplot into your stories. If there is any particular topic you would like me to cover do get in touch.

(c) Lucy O’Callaghan

Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31.

Facebook: @LucyCOCallaghan

Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

About the author

Writing since she was a child, Lucy penned her first story with her father called Arthur’s Arm, at the ripe old age of eight. She has been writing ever since. Inspired by her father’s love of the written word and her mother’s encouragement through a constant supply of wonderful stationary, she wrote short stories for her young children, which they subsequently illustrated.
A self-confessed people watcher, stories that happen to real people have always fascinated her and this motivated her move to writing contemporary women’s fiction. Her writing has been described as pacy, human, moving and very real.
Lucy has been part of a local writing group for over ten years and has taken creative writing classes with Paul McVeigh, Jamie O’Connell and Curtis Brown Creative. She truly found her tribe when she joined Writer’s Ink in May 2020. Experienced in beta reading and critiquing, she is currently editing and polishing her debut novel.
Follow her on Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31. Facebook and Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

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