Subplots are windows of opportunity that help with a story’s progression. When written and handled thoughtfully, they can cater to a story naturally without sounding superfluous. I imagine that a lot of subplots are written merely by accident (you know, when we want to kill someone off or weave in a love triangle). As an art of complex storytelling, subplots have taught me several lessons, besides adding depth to the central story arc and a deeper meaning to a story.
They provide freedom for authors to flesh out characters, themes and conflicts.
Subplots offer writers a chance to add twists and bridge connections.
They provide an open space for authors to play with dialogue and add entertainment.
Fluff is not always bad; supplementary information may not be integral to your main plotline but can be an excellent way for you to be creative, introduce Easter eggs from previous works of yours or preface an installment to a series that has yet to be written.
Subplots redefine a plot line or sequence of events.
They can pivot the mood for readers or even reestablish your tone.
Hell, they introduce new minor characters to reinforce or highlight centralized characters, settings or the plot.
Subplots should have an objective, some intention, either big or small.
They not only progress but expand or populate your main plot.
Also, they serve as a chance to strengthen a backstory.
They bridge understandings between characters, the reader and author or even ideas.
Subplots help ground your story because just like life, there is no one conflict a person or community faces.
In Ruby, the subplot between Madison and her relationship with her sibling not only highlights their bond but helps readers understand Madison, sibling differences and the theme of family dynamics.
The subplot of Kaplan’s past helps readers understand his budding relationship with Madison and allows readers to sympathize with him.
Whether adding dimension to secondary characters or inspiring a mood among readers, subplots are excellent opportunities for authors to enhance the story. Adding them to the framework of the main plot defers the resolution, the ending the reader has been waiting for, thus, piquing the reader’s interest further, flirting with their curiosity.
Lastly, I learned that subplots pave the way for new story ideas to birth into existence. This is one of the best ways to garner new novel ideas or to build on what you already know.