Sub-plot dancing

I have been occasionally re-examining my 2008 NaNoWriMo novel, Her Testament to Life, in hopes of getting it to the standard young adult novel length. Of course, that means I need to double it since it stands at a measly 32,000 words and I should be somewhere around 65,000. I've been at a loss for how to add depth and breadth to it...

Until now.

Sitting and working on my sociology project, I thought of a curious question, "What if Anna [my female main character's best friend] was furious at Claudia [my main character]? What would happen? And what if Claudia didn't tell her friends at a quiet coffee shop and instead told them at a football game where the entire school could find out. What happens if Anna can't deal with the cancer and so she spreads the truth about Claudia's condition? What would happen?

And enter in, my first ever sub-plot.

The sub-plot gives Anna, a previously very background character some depth and some nastiness to her. It allows her to take her own place in a cast that focuses almost exclusively on two people.

Knowing that I couldn't make a sub-plot last for 33,000 words, I got thinking about other characters. What about Mom? Katie, Cira (the other best friend), what about what Cira thinks of Anna's behavior? What about Claudia's sister, Amy? What about....

And so, knowing that I want more people to play a part in the novel, I feel I'll have a better chance of making the additions stronger and more meaningful than 33,000 words of descriptions, which, I believe, even Jane Austen couldn't do.

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Brittany said...

I love subplots in books and especially movies, though I haven't yet figured out how to fit them into my own writing. I write middle-grade fiction, and 32k would be a good length for a middle-grade novel, but for YA you definitely need to go longer.

Also, you can add more meat to your plot by adding a character who changes everything, like a contagonist, which gave me about five extra scenes. See this article on contagonists:

Good luck!

Ann said...

Thank you Brittany! I'll take a look at the article.

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