01 October 2014

Sufferin' Subplot!

I know I have a stuffed Sylvester the cat somewhere, but don't ask me to dig it out...

First Wed of Every MonthAnyway, today is the first Wednesday of the month so that means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! It's also the one year anniversary for the IWSG website! If you're looking for my submission for The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond, err, well...I haven't written it yet. I'll go ahead and blame my writing slump, and maybe my tendency to procrastinate. But I can think of several high school and college essays that were done at the last minute and still came out amazing, so this will be my project for the day! I know what I want to write about, at least, so, fingers crossed!

Anyhoo, whenever IWSG day rolls around, I feel like I always waste it. I usually vent about some minuscule problem or dilemma that having just one or two people respond to it makes me feel better or reinforces something that I already knew in the first place. It's great to get feedback, but on a day where I usually get three times the comments, I feel like I should be talking about something more meaningful. So that's what I'm going to try to do from now on.

I've been talking about my editing woes a lot lately. Basically I've been avoiding it like the plague. There are a ton of reasons behind this, but part of it is that I'm having a really hard time figuring out how to fix all of the problems in my novel. I'm starting to think I have to completely scrap the last third of it and figure out how to get to the ending. I've always known how the book needs to end, I'm just not sure I got there in the right way.

A lot of my problems come from the subplot. I think I have two options at this point: either scrap it or find a way to make it reflect the main plot more. There are a lot of parallels in my book--parallel moments, parallel characters, parallel LINES (there's geometry--it makes sense, I swear!). So my subplot should parallel the main plot in some way. I think what I was going for is to show how my main character is constantly manipulating people in some way--so this should go for the minor characters as well as the main ones. But I don't think I got that point across very well.

What worries me is that I can't quite figure it out. Every solution I come up with seems stupid, but I think I'm relying too much on what I've already written. I think up to a certain point it works, but once my MC has made the decision to basically destroy one his friends, it didn't really go where I wanted it to. It ends kind of weakly, and I want my MC to have more control of the situation, and honestly, be a bit more evil.

I'm also worried that having this subplot will weaken the book as a whole. Do I even really need it? I know I need these minor characters to have certain moments happen, but besides that, is it necessary? Do you think subplots just distract from the main plot? Or do they enhance it? I guess that all depends on if they're done right, but I'm still not sure about mine. I think I need to reevaluate why I need it, and try to revamp it so that it makes the story better.

What does everyone think? Are you for or against subplots? And if you'd like to help me brainstorm (and just for fun!)--how would you get revenge on someone who hurt you? 

24 comments:

  1. Subplots are fine as long as they relate to and move the story along. It could be that you are too close to your story. One strong suggestion I have is to set it aside for a while, a couple of weeks at least, maybe even a month. Don't think about it. While it's sitting there, go play around with something different. When you come back to this current piece, read it all the way through without stopping or making correction, just as if you were reading a regular novel by someone else. Problem areas may jump out at you, take notes. It's amazing how solutions seem to appear.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Subplots can really make a book. Pick just one little thing to work on and start there. It can feel overwhelming when you look at the story as a whole.

    ReplyDelete
  3. How many subplots are there? I have a lot of side-stories happening in my WIP and around draft 5 realized I didn't need them.

    Also, look at the point where you got stuck and think more on if that is the issue. You said after your MC destroys his friend, it didn't go where you wanted it to. Does he need to destroy his friend?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I can identify with this problem. Once I write something, making major changes seems like trying to manipulate concrete after it has hardened. The above advice all makes sense. Take a break and then focus on the problem. You could always attempt a rewrite in a separate file. That way you can decide whether or not to use it later. Brainstorming is great. It doesn't feel like a huge time-commitment.

    So on to revenge. People seem to use the internet for revenge by posting unflattering material be it written or pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I like subplots if they eventually tie into the major plot. Take a step back for a little while then pick up your story and read it from the beginning. Pay attention to your reaction as a reader If the subplot makes sense, keep it, if it needs work, keep reading until you can pinpoint what's wrong. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm for subplots. In fact, I can't think of a full-length book that didn't include at least one, but maybe you don't have the right subplot or the book doesn't need the one you have. It's hard to tell. Sometimes if things are feeling right and I haven't come up with the answer to make the story better, then I walk away from it for a while. Time away can give you a new perspective.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I like subplots too. You never know when the subplot can turn into another book. Ya know?Editing is truly challenging. I'm sending you good vibes to get through your edits.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love subplots. They definitely enhance the main plot. I agree with Cherie that sometimes stepping back and taking time away from a manuscript will give you a fresh perspective.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ahh, editing...it's the pits! I think subplots can work great in a novel when done correctly. I agree with the other comments. Maybe you need to take a step back, let it sit for a while, and come back with a fresh perspective. Sometimes that's all it needs—just some time away.

    But here is another thought. I recently met a bestselling author at a conference I attended, and she had these words of advice: "If your story doesn't need it, eliminate it." Ask yourself, can I tell this story without the subplot? Does the subplot make the story better? Or worse? Maybe then you'll have your answer. Hope that helps!

    So nice to meet you through the IWSG! :)

    http://swordsandstilettos.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. I agree with the others who talked about stepping away from the ms for a bit, getting a different perspective, etc.

    Also, I found WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL and the accompanying workbook by Donald Maass to be helpful when talking about subplots, how to build them, and the difference between a subplot and a layer.

    Good luck!

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

    ReplyDelete
  11. Okay, first of all WHERE IS YOUR CRITIQUE PARTNER? It sounds to me like you need another set of eyes (and a fresh brain) on this. You need someone who's read it and can brainstorm with you. There comes a point where we have to ask for help, eh?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you for visiting my blog site today, Sarah. Yes, I believe subplots are important to a story. Mine always have a subplot that parallels the main plot to bring home a point. The issue I have with my current WIP is expressing this without being obvious or clich├ęd.

    ReplyDelete
  13. oh dear, theres'no easy answer! Sometimes subplots take away from the main plot, and sometimes they enhance it. Without reading your book, I don't know which it is. I'd suggest asking betas/CPs for their input. And I also think the key has something to do with reworking this: "once my MC has made the decision to basically destroy one his friends, it didn't really go where I wanted it to. It ends kind of weakly, and I want my MC to have more control of the situation, and honestly, be a bit more evil."

    Try rewriting the scene so it reads exactly like that, even if it doesn't logically follow from what has come before. Once you get it to the place where you love it, see what else needs to be rewritten to support that change. And good luck! :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think I also agree that some beta readers or critique partners feedback would be a great help in your case. Or just friends with whom to have some good brain storm. I also recommend Moody Writing ( http://moodywriting.blogspot.mx/) There's a lot of useful information there and how to handle various problems, like the one you talk about.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I've, so far, not had to deal with subplots really. I tend to have many characters all converging in some way, so I guess they all come with their various stories already attached. Other people have mentioned beta readers, which sounds perfect for you. I don't usually want revenge so I have no idea how I'd go about it.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love sub plots. I write romance, so everyone knows the boy is going to get the girl, so there needs to be some other mysteries in the book!

    I've had to scrap whole sections, but I always save them, you never know when that secyion my be useful later. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  17. OMG I'm on the "everything I write, every solution I come up with, everything just everything is stupid" game right now so I get it. On that note, I love subplots though. I don't have any tips or wise advice but man I hope you figure it out, I think they really do add depth to a book. Good luck and hugs!!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. I had a problem with one of my character's motivation and after finding all my fixes 'stupid' I trashed almost 30k and rewrote it all.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I like subplots. Have you tried separating the two plots out on a sheet of paper in note form and seeing how the work individually? Then try and blend them again. Maybe use post-it notes? Just so you can see them in a literal sense. Good luck with it. I know it's frustrating.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I have trouble inserting subplots, so I can't even imagine taking one out. Looks like you have a lot of helpful suggestions, though.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I like subplots, I think they add an extra layer and it sounds like yours is a parallel plot to your main one so I would try and keep it at least in some way. Maybe it needs changing in some way? Look at the order things happen too. I think it sounds like you need some feedback from someone who has read the ms and can comment properly on it. Maybe think about a beta reader or trusted friend to take a look. Good luck, keep going.

    Great to be visiting as co-host for this months IWSG.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I've had to scrap the ending of my book. It's tough, but you can do it--if you think it's necessary. I like subplots, myself. If done well, they enhance the story for me.

    Do you have critique partners?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Those subplots give me fits at times. I had to unthread one the entire length of a novel after I decided it simply didn't work. Talk about hating yourself for ever coming up with an idea. I'd get another opinion, then decide what's best for your book.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Subplots are good so long as you don't go off the deep end with them. I agree with the other commenters in that you absolutely have to make the subplots relevant to the story. If you have a sub-plot that doesn't make sense, perhaps you can turn it into a very small throwaway scene that won't detract too much from the overall plot/theme.

    Father Nature's Corner

    ReplyDelete