50 Sure-Fire Storytelling Tricks! (Trick 43)


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Trick 43

Relationships of Subplots to Plot

Since subplots are essentially separate stories, they may or may not reflect the values and concerns of the principal story. This allows an author to complement or counterpoint the principal argument. Frequently a subplot becomes a parallel of the principal story in another storytelling context, broadening the scope of the principal argument by inference to include all similar situations. In contrast, the subplot may arrive at the opposite conclusion, indicating that the solution for one storytelling situation is not universally appropriate.

There can be as many subplots in a story as time allows. Each one, however, must hinge on a character who is essential to the principal story (as opposed to a character merely created for storytelling convenience). Each character can only head up a single subplot, just as the Main Character of the principal story cannot carry any additional subplots. However, the Main Character can (and often does) participate in a subplot as one of its objective characters.