Welcome to Week Four of my Prep-tober Series. Today we're talking about Plots, Subplots, and Outlines.
Plot is when a character pursues a goal, conflict arises, and a resolution is reached. It is your novel's main goal and what your character ultimately wants to achieve. I want to preface this post by saying I already have a blog post that you can find here, where I discuss the most common and easiest plot structure: The Three Act Structure. I also discuss the 27 Chapter Plot Structure I use here. However, I want to reiterate that there’s no right way to write. What works for one person, may not work for another. The point is to use what works best, and don’t be scared to adapt as you go along.
The subplot is a secondary plot put in place to strengthen and enhance the plot. You can have more than one subplot in a novel, but you don't want to overwhelm your novel's central plot. A good way to illustrate this is by using The Hunger Games. The main plot is Katniss competing in the Hunger Games with the goal of winning and staying alive. The subplot would be Peeta's feelings for Katniss and him doing whatever he can to help her win. Another subplot is Katniss rebelling against the Capital with the Mockingjay pin, Rue, and by threatening suicide to save Peeta and herself.
Why should you consider using a subplot? For two reasons. One it keeps your novel from getting boring. Whenever events are slow to play out in your central plot, you can add a little action from a subplot and keep your readers interested. They are also useful for characterization. Often, you can show a different side of your characters, especially if you have an anti-hero or anti-villain, and this can help your readers relate to your characters on a deeper level.
Now to make this easier, and hopefully, appeal to both pantsers and plotters, I wanted to give you guys an outline to use when prepping for your novel. That way you can take actionable steps to plan your novel right now. I suggest printing this blog post out or copying the information into a Story Bible or notebook so you can fill in the answers.
Write a Brief Summary of Your Novel:
What is Your Novel's Theme?
When and Where Does Your Story Take Place?:
Describe Your Main Character:
What Problem Does Your Main Character Face? What is Your Main Character's Goal? Is the Conflict Internal or External?
What is Preventing Your Main Character From Achieving this Goal?
How Does Your Novel Begin?
What is the Inciting Incident and What is at Stake?
How Does the Problem Intensify?
Describe the Temporary Triumph. Is it Internal or External?
Can you Introduce a Subplot here? If so, what?
Introduce a Second Turning Point. How was this Second Turning Point Caused?
What is the result of the Second Turning Point? How Does it Set Your Novel up for the Climax?
Describe the Climax.
Will the Subplot Play a Role in the Climax?
Who Wins? How do They Win? Were any Mistakes Made?
How do you Want Your Readers to Feel at the End of Your Book?
In the comments down below, let me know if this blog post and the outline were helpful. Is there anything you would have liked for me to have explained more? Next Sunday, be sure to join me again for the final part of this series as we dive into Writing Tools, Software, and Motivation.