How to Find Subplot Ideas for Your Novel



the elusive subplot let's talk about it hi guys and welcome back to my channel if you like writing advice videos consider subscribing and give this video a thumbs up if you've been waiting for me to finally do a video on sub flops don't hate me it's taken me a while sublets can seem scary and like they're a little difficult to make work in your novel you know what you want to happen but everyone's telling you subplots subplots subplots it often requires a lot of planning ahead of time and figuring out how to weave in a separate story into your main story without getting things confused which makes it intimidating and causes a lot of writers to just outright avoid it if they just so happened to write a subplot then would be that's good enough but subplots are deceivingly simple that's not to make all of your worry and doubts seem invalid or silly though because subplots are something that everyone worries about at some point I'm gonna break down what a subplot is and then help you come up with a few ways to add some relevant subplots first up what is a sub plot sub type subplots help us to better understand the main character their motivations how they react in certain situations what they think is important in life their flaws subplots are side stories that help us get to know the protagonists a little more before the big bang happens at the end a subplot has to have a beginning a middle and some kind of resolution just like your main plot it's a smaller cuter plot cuter maybe not cuter because they can get ugly just smaller for this reason it needs to have its own story arc if you're missing a piece of the arc the subplot may not feel like it's important to the story which is not good the resolution must affect the main plot even if you're just showing character development here it's nothing major you think is major your subplot means needs to affect the main plot to be totally relevant to the story I mentioned this a second ago but the subplot ties back into the main plot by the climax that's essentially when your story ends everything after that is just wrap up or setting up for the sequel the subplot strengthens or weakens your character which affects their performance during the climax so it needs happen by the climax you can still have subplot wrap-up happened after the climax but the lesson learned and the impact needs to happen before the climax now that we understand the gist of a subplot let's move on to the practical portion portion probably a lot of you are waiting for how do I find subplots to add to my story this is one of the most common questions I get concerning plot development is about sub-clause how do I come up with some fun ideas here are five questions for you to think about when trying to answer this question more questions to answer a question that's totally not confusing number one what is your protagonists relationship like with their family and a lot of stories or books or movies that aren't dramas there's not much focus on the family there may be some focus on romance or spouses but what about extended family what about their children their siblings their parents grandparents you can use that information to highlight a different side of your character by adding meaning to a flaw that ends up affecting the main plot or that the character has to overcome by the climax of the story and let's face it I mean it's realistic that your characters flaws might stem from familial issues that they've been dealing with for years totally believable number two is there a secondary antagonist to the main plot antagonist this is a character that adds more obstacles for your protagonist but ends up mentally or physically strengthening your character for the final showdown with the main antagonist keep in mind this secondary antagonist can't take over the main antagonists degree of opposition to the story they're a hurdle and exercise to help your character get ready for the climax wait an antagonist that helps the main character what okay my laptop recording my microphone just dydz that things have probably changed great time for my lighting equipment and start buzzing the universe does not want me to record today let me turn off that light okay let's try this for the third time okay so I probably moved a little bit anyway I'm now recording by the way I finished this entire video studio at least I'm halfway through alright how they end up helping can be obscure but without their encounter your protagonist may not be brave enough or confident enough in their abilities to face the main antagonist at the end even if they don't have any wins with the secondary antagonist even if they just have a bunch of fails number 3 how's their love life romantic subplots are likely the most popular subplot to have ever been called a subplot your character already has so much going on right now and now may not be the time to fall in love but guess what it's time buddy more drama more tension more sticks more stakes higher stakes that was dramatic I talked about this two weeks ago in my Game of Thrones example Robb Stark his story is drastically altered by his romantic subplot in the third season of all the times he could have fallen in love he fell in love immediately after promising himself to Wed someone else romance changes the game and can change what your character believes is important you can turn best friends against each other or it can be the motivational impetus for their protagonists to stand up for what they really believe in it can be good or it can be bad number four how can the past crop back up this is a relationship that started before our main story takes place but comes back to bite the character the main character in the but this can be family it could be a jilted lover a childhood bully a dog that always chases your main character out of the neighborhood for some reason it could be anything this type of character or animal or thing really because it could also be a ghost for all I know serves to show us a glimpse of your protagonists past which brings a deeper meaning to what's happening right now and the timing in your main character's life is key here this thing didn't come back as an issue until your character started on the main story's journey it wasn't a problem before but now it is this represents another flaw or disadvantage that your protagonist must overcome before the climax dealing with past issues number 5 what is your stories prevailing emotion and how can you balance that ad contrasting emotion in a subplot both to give the reader a break and to highlight the prevalent emotion without going overboard the main one that you want to focus on are you writing a dark scary book add some romance or comedic relief are you writing a family drama add a hint of horror or a relationship that's totally drama-free and easy your story can't be gogogo all the time because when something really big happens or surprising happens your readers gonna be numb to it this is also an opportunity to see how your character reacts to a situation completely unlike the main problem or goal in your story alright that's all I have for today's video I hope this was super helpful and comment down below your favorite subplot either to use in your own writing or to read about I'm sure it will give somebody some inspiration because there's a million subplots SAP's for my newsletter are down below including a newsletter from my upcoming writing courses mmm discounts will be sent out specifically to this newsletter once the course launches course discounts my voice purchase links for my debut why a dark fantasy are down below and if you would like to suggest a video or to vote on your favorite idea the link for that is down below I'm really really sorry my boys can't take much more mm-hmm also I said down below a million times just um yeah all right until next week bye guys also if you're a vocal coach and you know what the heck I'm doing wrong please let me know

26 thoughts on “How to Find Subplot Ideas for Your Novel

  1. •Subplots
    ~•A subplot is help us understand the main character
    -Ex. Their Motivations. How they react in certain situations. What they think is important in life. their flaws.

    •~ Subplots are stories that allow us to get to know the main character before the climax/plot
    —Subplots need a beginning middle and end of some sort

    *Subplots must AFFECT the MAIN PLOT

    —Finding Subplots/Coming up

    ~•What is protagonists relationship with family
    Ex: siblings & parents
    ~•This can be used to highlight the different sides of your character by adding meaning to a flaw that ends up affecting the main plot

    Secondary antagonist can be used to strengthen the battle with main antagonist.

    A past history that crops back up to hurt the main character

    -Family, Past Lover

    Wasn’t a problem before, but ever since the journey to main plot it arises

    **Presents a flaw protagonist has to overcome before climac

  2. It’s funny, because are you talking about subplots… I think your microphone and your lighting decided to be a subplot to this video LOL trying to switch it up on you!

    Camera, “she wants Subplots!? I’ll show her subplots”
    And then the battery dies lol

  3. I'm such a slut for romantic subplots, but I'm trying not to use them as frequently and save it for another book. Lol I'd have no idea how to write a romance book, but I'd definitely give it a try.

  4. romance and a flash from the past of the protagonist's childhood are my favorite subplots. thanks for this awesome video!!!

  5. This video was very helpful to me, thank you very much! And my favorite kinds of subplots are the familial and the past coming back into the character's life, especially when they are combined. I just think it's so effective because basically everyone can relate to family drama; it's one of the things that shapes us into the adults we become, and even then have influence over us.

  6. 8:11 In the Narniad itself … it seems each book was built around one astrological planet.

    MN – Venus
    LWW – Jupiter
    HHB – Mercury
    PC – Mars
    VDT – Sol
    SC – Luna
    LB – Saturn (+ fix stars at the very ending after passing through the narrow gate).

    For each of these, what would you consider the appropriate "subplot (different) planet"?

    Is it realised?

  7. I've just started the most important subplot not featuring Susan Pevensie herself (yes, it's a fan fic novel, probably I'll make no cent of it).

    Key turning point in Su's plot : she saves a girl from being forced into aborting under false pretences.
    Logically required subplot : how does the girl continue avoiding it?

    Georg(ina) Kirrin and her gipsy friend do have a thing to do with it. (yes, it's a cross over, featuring Famous Five AND Club des Cinq at least marginally : my fan fic theory on why sth like five years of school time contains sth like ten years of holidays and adventures is distributing the adventures between two related families, each having a lonely cousin and her three cousins who are more hip) …

  8. Great video, Vivian. One of the most helpful videos I've seen. Romantic subplots are one of the easiest subplots to think of, but can add a lot of emotion to the story. Another great place to find subplots is to ask yourself what is your main protag's nasty habit or destructive behavior he is trying to break, like a drinking or gambling problem. Or maybe he struggles with flirting with pretty girls, which is not a good thing to do, especially on the day before he is to get married. 🙂 BTW, I tried signing up for your newsletter, and it says to check my email box to confirm my subscription, but it hasn't shown up yet. I'll keep looking.

  9. My favorite subplot for one of my MCs is the revealing of her secret phobia and how she got that way, as well as how she has to face her fear indirectly throughout the series just to have to face it head on later on. I just hope my beta readers will like it as much as I do. Could you do a video on subtlety sometime? Thanks! 😀

  10. Three assholes for no reason. How could you give this a thumbs down when someone goes out their way to help their peer group?? Insufferable

  11. You're right about romantic subplots. They are used a lot, but I love them. I also really enjoy subplots that strengthen a relationship with a secondary character, particularly in a familial way. The wise old woman is a personal favorite.

  12. Subplots are super important! Is one of the elements that sometimes keep the reader hooked and eager to keep going! And not to mention the super well used romantic subplot😏😏

  13. I’m so concerned about the way I write, like I’m really fast paced.

    So basically my character is a vigilante, and the first chapter, I go about introducing the villain of the story The house of cards which is basically a large organisation that consists of multiple factions like; Diamonds, clubs, Hearts ETC..

    But what I’m concerned about is when I actually introduce the protagonist, like full on.. one day his in Washington, and then the next page, his been to Australia, and his now working with a science group researching Atlantis.

    Like I really don’t know how to transition with detail to basically anything.
    Let me give you a page of my book and please let me know what you think. Thanks!
    The detective reached for and opened the gate door which caused a loud screeching sound, as if a cat was having children late at night. It slid to the other side of the wall, letting him inside.
Inside was complete darkness, the only light appeared from the moon outside of the hole filled factory.
    The factory was really big, it was clearly tearing apart with age, as bits of metal hung from the roof. 
The detective moved away from the entrance closer to the shadows. It was clear to him that he was being watched.
“It was you wasn’t it?” He whispered into the darkness.
“We’ve been working together for the Ghan murders, and the street wars related to Kyla Blevins. You should know that I don’t use a gun.” A figure appeared behind the defective, he clearly knew exactly what Plegan was talking about. He was wearing white robes that led into a hoodie covering his face. His feet were covered by what seemed to be a buskin (an Ancient Greek boot, that covered his legs up to his knee.)
The detective turned around to face the man. But just as he did, time slowed down for Plegan. The man came running at him very quickly. But to the detective, it seemed as if it took hours.. “GET THE FUCK DOWN” He stammered as he ran at the detective and bought him to the ground, within seconds the place started getting riddled with bullets. The rebound made noises so close to their ears the detective squirmed each time.
Suddenly the bullets came to a holt. And for a brief moment, nothing happened.. just the sound of the night could be heard.
    The detective quickly ran into the darkness of the factory, so that he could see what was happening.
The sound of people opening truck doors and closing them filled the factory. 
“They’re coming.” Then after a few short moments of silence, “Stay here.” The man whispered.
“Move in” a scream came from outside. They didn’t know what they were walking into
“PUSHING IN” a voice came from outside as they flung a stun grenade into the Area. During that moment where the stun grenade went off, and light filled the factory for about half a millisecond The man (Who went by the name Fantasia) could be seen on the ceiling.
The people screaming moved into the factory. They looked like soldiers.. they wore gear similar to that of someone in the marine corps, with night vision goggles. And AR M4’s which were military weapons.
But just as two of them moved in, Fantasia dropped on them like a boulder.. slashing one of their necks and knocking the weapon out of the other soldiers hand. 
The remaining soldier tried to fight.

    Like it just feels too fast paced for me.
    Anyway thanks for your videos, they’ve really been helping me out throughout this journey.

  14. Another great video – all your points were so insightful! subplots can be a challenge, but I think they're a great strategy for bringing secondary characters to life and giving them purpose beyond simply serving the main character's own needs.

  15. I wrote a fantasy saga and 1/2 of my characters were left in the shade, so i was thinking about killing them off because they didn't serve any dramatic purpose and i couldn't find a way to integrate them into the main story. Then i added a subplot for them to leave the main group and deal with, and it really gave them a chance to shine, i was so stoked with how it had turned out. The subplot didn't seem tacked on either, it was compelling in its own right.

  16. I hate when tech issues happen during shoots, especially when you have to shoot more than once. Good job charging ahead anyway. 🙂

    FYI, I noticed that your background kept coming in and out of focus. Wondering if something was up with the camera during the shoot too.

  17. Hey, I am working on a High Fantasy Novel… And I am having trouble with Chapter One. I have worked on the world building for four years, and just finished the Prologue, but Chapter One just isn't working out that much…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *