Write a Better Plot, Step 6: Plotting the Secondary Plots

I hope Martha Alderson’s series on plotting has been helpful for you. I’ve been plotting a story using these techniques, and I’ve found that my story is better-structured than ever.Today’s video is on Step 6 (How to plot the subplots of a novel):

Just like any other complex story, the Lord of the Rings and How to Train Your Dragon have several secondary plots in addition to the main plots. We talked about the dramatic action plot and character emotional development plot in the previous step (Plotting the Major Plots of a Novel).

The Lord of the Rings

Aragorn’s subplots include his romance with Arwen, and it is closely tied with his internal development. Arwen’s survival provides Aragorn’s primary motivation for embracing his kingship. There is also a minor romance subplot with Eowyn.

Frodo’s subplots include his friendship with Sam. Their relationship starts off almost as a master and servant, but it eventually develops into an interdependence, where they cannot survive without the other. Frodo’s relationship to the ring of power is also a secondary plot in the story.

One of the lighter subplots in the Lord of the Rings trilogy is the relationship between the elf Legolas and the dwarf Gimli. Even though their races have historically been enemies for the most part, they were thrown together as members of the Fellowship. Eventually, they become good friends who are willing to fight and die beside each other.

How to Train Your Dragon

Hiccup’s subplot include his relationship with his father and the beginnings of a romance with Astrid. We also see is development and growth as a future leader of his tribe, beginning with him garnering the respect of his peers.

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Have you thought about the secondary plots of your novel, and how they will contribute to your major plots?

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