View Full Version : Weaving Subplots into Your Suspense

March 11th, 2011, 07:49 AM
One of my many favorite authors is Phyllis Whitney. I never could understand what it was about her books that I couldnít put down, that is, until I saw it clearly in her juvenile mysteries. It was the subplot!

Your subplots can make the difference between a novel your reader canít put down or a book to placed on a nightstand never to be finished.

The chapters will naturally dip in the middle of each chapter as routine crime solving techniques are played out. To keep your readers interest in the middle of your chapters and the middle of your book as well utilize subplots.

In the Phyllis Whitney book, the main plot line was a young boy solving a crime but in the middle of each chapter, he was trying to resolve other challenges in his life. His conflicts and adjustments with the marriage of his Mother to a new father and the new father came with stepsisters and brothers who didnít like him. And of course the loss of his friends, a new school and finding his place in the new community. Each and every one of the subplots kept my interest as the young hero solved the mystery. I wanted to find out more about how he solved his challenges.

In my first chapter of, Lights, Camera. Murder! I start out with a dead body being found by my heroine. And at the very end, she stumbles over a second body.

In the middle of this first chapter and the ones following, I use the subplots to maintain my reader interest during those middle pages between the two bodies found.

In this case it was the conflict between the hero and heroine and then I added subplots of the other characters. It keeps the reader turning the page.

By using your subplots the reader never has a break from the suspense.

Subplots can be outside of your primary plot or can be internal conflicts of the hero and or heroine. There is no limit to the amount of subplots you can have to a novel, but make sure you resolve all your subplots before your novelís end and, very important, make sure they do not take away from your central storyline. Sometimes they will add to it.

In a novel, your mystery or crime should be your main plot. The subplot can be your hero and heroine falling in love or resolving other issues.

For instance there is a mysterious connection between my heroines, in my current work in progress, with a plantation in Louisiana. The connection is a family secret one her parents are reluctant to share. As she works to solve the main mystery at hand, during the middle of many chapters, she also works to uncover this family secret. This particular subplot is one of the multiple subplots is one of many, I weave into all my books.

In the romantic suspense, the main plot is the mystery, your characters falling in love will always be the subplot. In an straight romance, the love story is the main plot.

Subplots can involve your secondary characters.

Subplots should be emphases and heightened for your reader in the middle of each chapter to maintain that level of reader interest throughout your book.

While they may or may not be central to your storyline, they should interest the reader and be woven in seamlessly to keep the readers turning the page.

You have heard a bit of my plots and subplots. This is now an open forum to share your novelís plots and subplots. I look forward to hearing about them and questions you might have.

A Subplot and or subplots will move your story along, deepen characterization and keep your readers turning the page.

I just heard this morning about Tsunami Alert for New Zealand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, and others. Waves expected over the next few hours, caused by 8.9 earthquake in Japan. My prayers and our prayers are for all people in those areas.

Have a wonderful day everyone, class resumes on Monday, and I'll be around all weekend for questions. Linn