Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Write Wednesday: Donald Maass, Jim Butcher & Me

Welcome back to Write Wednesday!

Today I'm going to be talking about the "Breakout Novel" (some great advice from Donald Maass), the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, and my own current WIP (my NaNoWRiMo novel), specifically focusing on SUBPLOT(s).

The subplot(s) in a novel should either support or parallel the main plotline, says Donald Maass.  Although subplots are not entirely necessary, if you have one or more that complicate, bear upon, mirror or reverse the main plot, this adds value to the overall story.

Oftentimes, a romantic subplot is included in a story (when it's not romance.  If you're writing romance, it better be the main plotline!) to complicate things.  Books like the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander and A Series of Unfortunate Events contain romantic subplots. 

A Series of Unfortunate Events has one of my most favorite romantic moments (in book 10, I believe -- The Slippery Slope) that adds a layer of emotion to the story.  In one moment it turns from a sibling adventure/survival story to a growing up story and complicates things that way.

Another common subplot is for a secondary character to have their own story arc (think Professor Severus Snape or Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter series), heroic, antiheroic or villainous as the case may be.

Great examples of both of these types of subplots are The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.  I've read the first three books (can't wait to dive into four and five!) and am always amazed at the quality of writing.  The effort put into the books to carry storylines through the series (instead of standalone plotlines) with a myriad of characters astounds me. 

The romantic subplot carries through the first three books, becoming stronger as the story continues (And I've heard a little spoiler that it comes back in a later book -- poor Dresden).  The character involved in the romantic entanglement complicates things because of her job and her personality (both of which intertwine nicely).  This combination serves to heighten the stakes and add a touch of romance in Dresden's world.

Side characters are introduced as well and although I haven't spotted huge character arcs for them (yet), Jim Butcher doesn't really leave anything to chance and always seems to bring a semi-forgotten idea, character or item to the forefront just when it is needed.

It's encouraging to read these books and realize that I am in fact growing as a writer -- I intentionally wove in a romantic subplot (combining a friend/love interest of the MC) and I have discovered a rather violent, social commentary subplot in a seemingly throwaway character.  I'm not saying I'm handling it well (I'm still stumbling around my first draft) but to see how my writing has changed over the last few years (partially due to all the fantastic books I get to read) is, well, encouraging.

If you're writing (or taking part in NaNoWriMo as a super fun Fall activity), what are your thoughts on subplots?  If you're not writing, are there certain stories' subplots you love?  (How about in TV shows?)

And don't forget, you can enter Rachel Aaron's awesome giveaway of the last Eli Monpress book, Spirit's End, HERE.

Come back tomorrow for a post WITH PICTURES! :D

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