Lessons from Lucy: subplots

danReading a recent interview with Lucy, HERE, I noticed the following reply she made to a question. It sums up her book pretty well, which is hard to do (when you write a lot it’s hard to sum it up quickly for somebody, like the elevator pitch or whatever).


However, it also demonstrates the value of subplots and putting your character up a tree and throwing rocks at them:

The most pressing matter is of course to recover the missing painting, but this is complicated by (2) unwanted police attention in the form of two nosey detectives who are most certainly not welcome sticking their noses into College business. (3) Head Porter is facing mysterious financial difficulties and his personal life seems to become more convoluted by the minute. (4) The Dean is offered an attractive proposition but is torn between his loyalties to Old College and his personal ambitions. (5) Our plucky heroine Deputy Head Porter is trying to hold it all together whilst being stalked by a shadowy, unseen stranger whose motives are highly dubious. There is also the matter of (6) an unexplained death, but no one seems to be too interested in that, for some reason.

Six things going in, ALL of them pretty important.

They aren’t minor stories, they’re the poles that hold up the tent. 

The main story is about recovering the painting. That takes us from chapter 1 to “the end.”
But each of the other stories is almost important in its own right.
Which is why her stories are so good.

How many subplots does YOUR story contain?

Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages. From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heartwarming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry - or hang onto the edge of your seat - has been enjoyed by audiences around the world. And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time. “That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.” Readers agree, making his string of #1 bestsellers popular across the globe. He will make you chuckle or shed tears, sometimes on the same page. His novels always contain twists and turns, and his nonfiction will stay in your heart forever. Dan resides in the Tampa area with his wife and daughter. You can find him blogging away almost every day on www.DanAlatorre or watch his hilarious YouTube show every week Writers Off Task With Friends. Dan’s marketing book 25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew has been a valuable tool for new authors (it’s free if you subscribe to his newsletter) and his dedication to helping other authors is evident in his helpful blog.

19 thoughts on “Lessons from Lucy: subplots

  1. I had no idea there were so many subplots until I broke it down. I think that when your characters are interesting enough, they sort of write their own plots and somehow squeeze themselves into the main body of the story. Maybe.

    1. Yes! Exactly!

      There’s a saying, write each secondary character as though the story is about them (or something like that). And also, secondary characters can/should be MORE interesting, not less interesting, than the main character(s).

      You do both.

      The Dean definitely thinks the whole book is about him. So does the Head Porter. So do a lot of your characters.

      But they could be right. Each is hugely interesting because you made them that way. Each could be a spin-off book.

      That combination creates a very rich literary soup. No dull bits. And that is great writing!

      1. When you put it like that, it makes sense. I had no idea I was doing that at the time of writing, it just happened. Now, though, I can harness that for book 3. You are ever so helpful, Daniel.

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