I really wanted to post a picture of a submarine called HMS SUBPLOT but alas, my tablet is in England! I apologise for causing disappointment.  Be strong, my friends.  I know my artwork has brought you all to tears in the past, and it shall again.

But yeah, okay, subplots. Novels need them.  Seriously.  A single level of plot isn't enough. You need more going on in the background.  And what's going on in the background has to relate to the main story.

Allow me to offer an example...

The picture is a summary of a book.  The Plot is the gate.  Passing through this gate takes characters to a magical fantasy world known as AWESOME LAND, a place that has to be saved.  The Subplot relates to the buildings in the background.  They're the reason the gate exists, but their history is lost to time... or is it? The main character will find out as they defeat the enemy and save AWESOME LAND.

If you're lacking a subplot, it's easy to create one.  Start with your characters' relationships and the world your story is set in. Add drama, history and intrigue that, while not necessarily essential to the main goal, add the little touches that bring a book to life.


  1. Definitely. They also help the reader take small breaks from the main action. Making sure the reader's mind can jump between topics once in a while prevents them from being burned out, so to speak.

  2. Books without subplots are like ice cream without toppings. It's okay, you'll eat it, but it's just doesn't have all those extra little things that make you love it.

    Sometimes it seems hard to write subplots in, but I always find that if I've got fleshed out secondary characters, the subplots sort of form on their own.

  3. GKJeyasingham: Yes, reader burn out is not good, and a constant onslaught will exhaust them and distance them from the characters.

    Francesca Zappia: I agree - subplots create themselves without you realising it. It's quite comforting!

    ...And now I really want some ice cream...

  4. Hmm, I came here with something insightful to say about subplots, but now I also want ice cream.

    Carry on!

  5. Jen: I totally indulged in ice cream last night ;)


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