Dont Forget to Knot as You Go

Remember what I said about alternating viewpoint: that the story will try to split in two? That's even more true when it comes to subplots. Knot the different strands of your narrative together from time to time. Build in all the connections and convergences you can. Show events in the main plot affecting what's happening in the subplot, and the other way round. Have characters overlap, figuring in both main plot and subplot, although perhaps more important in one than the other. For instance, in WutheringHeights, Heathcliff is one of the main protagonists of the plot as a whole; but in the subplot detailing the successive romances between young Cathy and her two cousins (one of them Heathcliff s son), Heathcliff becomes a background figure, like a thunderstorm grumbling in the distance.

Build in connections of mood, event, props, setting, and narrative pattern, as I'll discuss more in Chapter 8.

Finally, remember that like main plots, subplots need developments, crisis, big scenes, and resolution. Even if a subplot is only going to run for thirty pages or so before coming to final crisis, it deserves the same care, in miniature, as does your main plot. Don't neglect it. Refer to it from time to time. If possible, make the subplot's crisis coincide with, and be directly involved in, an important crisis in the main plot. Converging plot lines will add to the whole scene's impact and meaning.

For instance, you shouldn't kill off your protagonist in mid-plot; but you can kill off an important subordinate character who's been the center of a subplot. The implied threat to the protagonist will be intensified. And if you really like the subordinate character, you can write him or her a wonderful death scene and maybe throw a spectacular funeral.

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