A Twist in the Web: Complex Subplots in Simple Storylines

In the last few sessions of writing my novel, I’ve found a cool little subplot that I wanted to work with more in the storyline. It is a much more complex and dark subplot than the larger story it’s couched in, but I’m finding it to be surprisingly interesting and driving.

Why This Works: It’s a Little Shock of Mystery

Overall, my novel up to this point has been fairly straightforward, focused on one character and that character’s impressions and perceptions of the world. The lightness and relative simplicity of this larger storyline seems to set off this little shadowy gem of a subplot quite well–the smaller subplot is more other-focused, more about the wider world around the main character, like a glimpse out a window.

I somewhat planned this and somewhat didn’t–I knew that this subplot’s initiating event would happen, and I wanted the story to be more other-focused at that moment, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to achieve that until I began to write it. Then this subplot began to emerge from my fingers, seeping into my keyboard and into the Microsoft Word file, and I began to marvel at what was being created. It was a sudden touch of mystery in an otherwise fantasy/Christian-fiction story, and it just WORKS. 😀

The great part about this is that it helps break up any monotony that might have formed for readers thus far. And there are a few more complex subplots to be written as well before this first novel of mine ends. It certainly is a twist in the story’s web, but it makes a very neat little pattern all its own, and I like it!

How to Introduce a Twist in Your Own Stories

No matter what size your story is, you can give your readers the same interesting turn in a story’s plot without having to make the whole story “suspense/mystery.” Here’s a couple of tips:

  • Place your twist in the middle of a particularly peaceful scene or section of the story, giving your plot a bit more texture (like the surprise of crunchy peanut butter in a PB&J sandwich).
  • Whatever you decide to write as your “twist,” reveal it slowly–don’t give all the information to the reader at once. I find that writing my “twist” subplot works best if I intersperse mentions of it in between other, lighter parts of my novel, giving my readers time to wonder about what’s really going on.
  • Try writing your “twist” subplot from the perspective of a new character, or maybe one of your minor characters you haven’t developed much yet. (You may not end up including this in your story, but it will be good background information and will force you to view this subplot with a different character’s perspective!)

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