Tuesday, March 1

I need meat with my potatos!


Christ Barth wanted to talk about subplots this week, and it couldn't be more timely. I have a big story, meaning ST, in Branded. It's not a category plot matter. It's also not really suspense, which I usually have in my stories.
I don't have a great sub-plot in this book. Argh! What to do? I've been wracking my brain. (I know, Christi, if I'd plotted, I wouldn't have this problem)! Anyway, I need a sub-plot. I thought about cattle rustling, but my friend and CP, Sara, is doing that, and I don't steal. I thought about a land or water grab. Yawn. Just not coming to me in this book. The funny part is I usually have too much story. Not too little.
My other buddy Kristi says eds on the boards are saying they want streamlined plots. But how streamlined? Like down to one main story with nothing else. Yuk. For me that would be like eating potato stew with no meat in it. I need a sub-plot!
I just got my story Mississippi Blues back from the FAB contest with editor comments. This story has two full love stories intertwined in it. Both eds commented that they didn't like it. Both said they secondary characters overshadowed the main couple.
I'm searching for a happy medium in this area for Branded. A super sub-plot that doesn't overwhelm, but one that makes my big book full.
What about you? What makes a book's sub-plot satisfying?

12 comments:

  1. You have a built-in sub-plot with the housekeeper, who probably loved Benson, but could fall in love with someone new, maybe someone who is a help to Cord.

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  2. People love pets. Why don't you consider a sub-plot of a pet in distress. Your heroine may have a lovable, but disobedient dog whom she is always bailing out of doggy jail because he won't stay home because he loves to rummaging in n neighbnoring trash cans, or maybe a cat who is constantly into things, or maybe she rescues a stray. Good luck! Kelley

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  3. Oooh, I like Liz's idea about Benson and the housekeeper! And what about Shayla? You could always bring her back for a little sum'n, sum'n! :)

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  4. I love dangerous sub- plots, like the one you had in Shot. The drug addicted brother was great.

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  5. I'm personally not partial to sub-plots with another couple falling in love. I'd prefer they have their own story and that the word count is devoted to the main H/h. Cattle rustlers are common enough so I wouldn't consider it as taking a friend's idea, especially since the complexities would be specific to the H/h's goals and relationship.

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  6. I like Liz's idea about Millie and Benson. And I like the idea of rustling. Maybe have your troublemakers be the instigators. I wouldn't consider it stealing--like Kathy said it's common enough--but then again, that might be reason enough to shy from it.

    But I think you have a wonderful subplot already and you might not realize it. Why did Aspen's mother leave? Who's the baby in the cemetery? Could it be Millie's with Benson and the reason Aspen's mother left? And you have Cord's troubles with the locals, and Shyla could come back to instigate trouble between Cord and Aspen.

    For the most part, all of my STs (as you know--with the reading of AHA, you've read them all) has a bad guy who is central to the story. A lot of Butterfly's subplot deals with Charli and Dylan dealing with the ghosts for their pasts. Cord and Aspen could have some dark ghost to deal with. I think Cord's has already been hinted at in his conflict with the locals. For Aspen, she could have trust issues--primarily caused by her mother or by a really bad breakup.

    I think you might be surprised what you can layer into this story.

    Okay, I'm done brainstorming your story....*grin*

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  7. I personally like subplots that involve the villain and subplots that involve suspense. If it's not a suspense story, though, I like subplots about the protagonist's life outside the romance like at work or in a relationship with a parent or sibling or friend, i.e. someone other than the hero.

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  8. Wow. I don't think I can do any better than Sara, I think she hit a bunch of nails on the head. And I agree with the general consensus of something between Benson and Millie and the mystery of the baby boy.

    Can't wait to see which way you decide to run with it.

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  9. A subplot needs to be interwoven with your main plot so that it is actually needed to tell the main story. A subplot shouldn't be able to stand alone. In a romance, it shouldn't overwhelm the romance plot.

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  10. It's the balance, so I'm ok with a front couple and a back couple, as I think the sub-couple emphasizes the main protagonists, provides a backdrop. Plus if in the characterization, the main h/h have one relationship that is serious, the sub-couple can off set that for texture. Having said that, I usually have sub-couples, but they have to contrast/interact to offset the main h/h. In Three Kisses I have 3. (Publisher titled it, but it is a mystery.:)

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  11. I like secondary characters - there's always a way to tie them to the main plot

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  12. I'll be the lone ranger here and say I don't like hooking Bensen & Millie up. Having the baby in the cemetary be Aspen's brother or sister could be interesting. Thumbs down on cattle rustling and one thumb up for horse stealing. It's prevalent in our area right now (can you believe it?) and taking the horses over state lines or the border the norm. If Aspen & Cord work together to uncover the horse thieves, that could be a subplot...couldn't it?

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