An Excerpt From My Book: Get Writing, A Beginner’s Guide From Idea To First Draft
Subplots are what most people consider the secondary story or the least important stories in your script, yet that is not true because most subplots carry the emotional and thematic content of a story. Without thematic and emotional content, the story will end up as a linear story.
Your story needs a subplot or two. There are other stories that carry more than two subplots but if you are at the beginning stage of your writing career, I suggest you keep it to a maximum of two subplots to avoid confusing yourself. Master the craft then experiment with the various ways of writing.
Just like the main plot of your story has a beginning middle and an end, your subplot needs the same. Stories that work best are the ones that introduce your subplot right after your plot has taken off, when your character needs time to breathe then introduce the subplot to bring in dimensionality of your character.
An example of a subplot is a relational subplot. After you’ve introduced your main plot/story, you then introduce the complication of your main characters’ relationship with his GF, husband, parents, siblings etc.
The subplot is not to be confused with a filler. The subplot plays out parallel to the main story, hence the reason it needs to be introduced right at the first act or at the end of the first act.
If you are somewhat confused about what the main plot is and what the subplot is, ask yourself which plot gives your story the most action, which one specifically gives your protagonist movement towards his/her goal. The answer to this question gives you your main plot, once you identify what your main plot is then now you can plan it out separately and see how your subplot affects your main plot.
Your subplot should not feel like something random and not connected to your main plot, if anything, the emotions involved in your subplot are what will propel your characters’ actions in the main plot. So make sure the two are interwoven for maximum impact.
Subplots also mostly deal with the softer issues in your story. They are a necessity for your script and without them the story will become linear and one dimensional. Give your subplot (B story and sometimes C story) as much attention as you give to your main plot as it plays a major role in the emotional connection to your film.
- Sometimes writers are confused about what is their main plot and what is the subplot. The way to distinguish is by knowing that the main plot is the one that gives your story the most action. Which story gives the protagonist specific movement towards his or her goal? Which story asks the MDQ or Central Question?
- Subplots carry the emotional and thematic content of a story.
- Subplots are not fillers. They play out parallel to the main story, hence the reason it needs to be introduced right at the first act or at the end of the first act.
- Your subplot shouldn’t feel like something random and not connected to your main plot, if anything, the emotions involved in your subplot are what will propel your characters’ actions in the main plot. Make sure the two are interwoven for maximum impact.
- Subplots mostly deal with the softer issues in your story. They are a necessity and without them the story becomes linear. Give your subplot as much time and attention as the main plot.
Look at your story carefully and see how many subplots you have? Are they working in harmony with the rest of the story? Do they feel like fillers? What themes does your subplot explore and where have you placed the inciting incident of your subplot? It needs to come in after the inciting incident of your main plot.
This is an excerpt from my Book: Get writing, A beginner’s Guide From Idea To First Draft.
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