Subplots…Should You Use Them?

I have been plugging away at my story for the upcoming contest in May and have written a few chapters. I believe that you don’t have to work in chronological order but in the ideas that pop into your head. I think I have already written a chapter that could appear in the middle of the story so it opens up the room for me to fill in the past and the future of what is to come.

That leaves me to think about adding subplots. Should I? I read that you should only add subplots if it merges with your story and not if you feel that you have to drop it in to add word count. Life is a series of subplots so why not make your story have at least one subplot as well?


When you’re creating your characters and you have decided on your protagonist and antagonist, to give your story more depth, I believe there should be an underlying subplot that will make your story be more believable.

Nothing is ever centered around just your two main characters and even when you build up your secondary characters, they are usually created to move your story along or aid the development of others. Why not give them a story as well? Without congesting your story, find a way to unravel your main plot so that it connects everyone – like stories within stories. It would take the pressure off the main story, it would reveal the growth of the protagonist and it would drive the story forward with more questions your reader would ask.

By analyzing the day or nighttime shows you love to watch, look out for subplots. For example, I love watching Grimm which just started again on its new season and it has subplots of its own. The main plot of the story is about a detective who seems to have the ability to see through mystical creatures that live among us and are not part of a fairy tale. The subplots that unravel include his boss, who has his own agenda, his best friend who is also a cop that is trying to understand the world he is being introduced to and someone he befriended, who has his own problems to contend with. With all those factors, the show draws you in and leaves you with wanting to find out more.

Make your story just as exciting. Don’t think of just what your main characters are going through but the people around them who are also dealing with problems that may interconnect the stories together.

With my story, for example, my character has found herself working in an industry that she thought she could never work in so the plot of my story is how a woman deals with the loss of her job that propels her into a different lifestyle. The subplots I am trying to create is between her friend, who has now become her employer and the man she seems to be drawn to, who has issues of his own.

I can’t wait to see how my story develops but you should always remember that nothing is cut and dry, in life or in your stories too. Don’t make your creation wooden with no flexibility; remember that something is always going on. Whether your character is directly involved in the turmoil or just watching it happen, is up to you, but make your readers want more.

There are two conferences that are coming up that I think you should know about:

Thriller Fest VIII, July 10 to 13, 2013 at Grand Hyatt, NYC. This also includes: CraftFest and AgentFest. Check it out at

2013 Writer’s Digest Conference East, April 5-7, 2013 in New York City. Also, the Screenwriter’s World Conference East is being held there. You can visit both websites at and

Jenn Andrew
Freelance Writer
With perseverance and passion, you can achieve your publishing dream.


59 responses to “Subplots…Should You Use Them?

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