Why Subplots Work
If you’ve been reading My Freedom Flame for a while, you’ll know all about the fictional sport of shotball, the subplot I use in my debut full-length novel, Northern Knights.
Yes, I took a page out of J.K. Rowling’s book.
No, it’s a much simpler sport than Muggle Quidditch. Though I must say, Muggle Quidditch is awesome. If you havent done so, stop reading this post and check out Major League Quidditch‘s website.
As mentioned, shotball is much less complicated. That’s because it’s, well, a sport Muggles can play, to be honest.
In fact, it only requires a goal, a kickball (or something similar), and a football field.
Nothing crazy, nothing to really modify, right?
Well, if you’re playing a pickup game of shotball you might want to modify the rules a bit.
For instance, you might want to play a flag version of the game if playing for fun. Or tag.
Or whatever suits your needs.
You could play tackle, but let’s discuss some of what’s legal in the game before you decide to play my fictional sports masterpiece.
All About Subplots
Subplots are fun to implement in all books.
And to read about.
Back to Harry Potter, where Quidditch is a featured subplot in most works. Especially during the darker books, like Half-Blood Prince, shotball provides the reader a pleasant distraction.
Or, like the NFL each Sunday and College Gameday on Saturday. Each provides fun, exciting, and breathtaking distractions away from life.
Your subplot doesn’t have to be all about sports. It can be anything in a book. Is there a love triangle? An especially nosey character? The list goes on and on.
I love football and loved the Quidditch subplot, so it was natural to include a fictional sport of my own in a fictional world.
Choosing a Subplot
What are you passionate about when you’re writing?
Is there a love triangle, where the main is having a tough time choosing a love affair between two other characters?
Or, is the main having an affair between such characters?
What about the media?
Is there an annoying reporter or group of reporters sneaking in on the main and supporting characters’ business?
The entertaining distractions are endless. There’s so much to choose from here.
Making the Subplot Relevant
Does your subplot make sense?
Is it necessary to have in the work?
Does your subplot relate to the main characters?
I’ll use Northern Knights as an example, where my characters are playing for the same shotball team. These characters also appear in the book (and the series) time and again, playing major roles in the book’s and series’ plot.
When I had Northern Knights beta-read, my readers stated the subplot was a great way to show my audience how the main characters were able to work together, setting the stage for what was to come later on in the main plot.
Though shotball itself had little to do with the main plot, inserting it allows the readers to see such chemistry in action. In addition, the reader could see during a few select games the rivalry between my main characters and a few antagonists.
Rejuvenate the Reader
Subplots can be used to rejuvenate the reader. Again, using Half-Blood Prince as an example, it re-energizes the reader to continue with the main story: Lord Voldemort’s history and Draco Malfoy’s mission. Plus, there’s always the Severus Snape conundrum.
With so much going on in the book, and Northern Knights is much like Half-Blood Prince in this aspect, the reader is ready to take on what’s in store for our characters next.
Obviously, the distractions in Half-Blood Prince prepare us for the inevitable. I won’t play spoiler here, as people to this day are discovering Harry Potter for the first time. The win, loss, and epic comeback set the stage for the reader’s experience.
When implemented properly, the reader is ready to continue the story and to experience the book’s ultimate climax.
Subplots are fun, energizing, and exciting. They provide awesome breaks for the reader, distracts them from the main plot, and allows them to explore the main characters’ personalities to a greater extent.
So, if you’re looking to write a certain number of words, adding subplots are great for hitting a word quota if you’ve taken the main plot as far as possible.
Do you wish to write 60,000 words but only have 40,000 down?
Add an awesome subplot. Let the reader experience more than the main plot, and not only did you find a readership, but you also, in the case of sports subplots, founded a new sport.
And that’s pretty cool.