That’s what my brainstorming buddies were saying. I looked up from my chicken club sandwich and my notes for the third book in the Husband Hunter series when one internationally best-selling author of romantic suspense and women’s fiction, said,
“The subplot is dead.”
Subplots, apparently, are so twenty-years-ago! So pen-and-paper, so pre-digital, pre-binge watching! Readers today demand a sexy, intense love story with an exclusive focus on one hero/one heroine. Clinging to my subplots might be about as smart a career move as clinging to my 80’s jackets with shoulder pads like Big Macs. Unless I can find readers who read like every day is Throwback Thursday!
Why do I love the subplot? Let me count the ways! The subplot is the main plot’s sidekick—Batman’s Robin, Macbeth’s Banquo, Sherlock’s Watson, Lewis’s Hathaway, or Morse’s Lewis, Foyle’s Samantha, Nancy Drew’s Jo and friends. The subplot is an extra dollop of theme. The subplot is texture and zest, the tortilla strips in my salad, the cheese on my burger. The subplot allows my hero/heroine to eat, sleep, and breathe. The subplot is a track for test-driving a new hero/heroine. The subplot is a powerful emotional motif. The subplot is the catalyst driving the heroine and hero together, giving them an opportunity for courage, love, and sacrifice.
Some brilliant sub-plotters are Penelope Williamson (the triangle of Moses Weaver, Marilee, and the doctor in The Outsider), Laura Kinsale (the story of Allegreto and Cara in For My Lady’s Heart), Eva Ibbotson (the story of Maxie and the littlest Heidi in The Magic Flutes), and, of course, Jane Austen—Jane and Bingley, Marianne and Colonel Brandon.
And then there is perhaps the world’s favorite sub-plot extravaganza, the film Love Actually, with 9 subplots: David & Natalie; Billy Mack & Joe; Juliet, Mark, & Peter; John & Judy (John, Martin Freeman, who has become Sherlock’s Watson); Harry & Karen; Sarah & Karl; Jaime & Aurelia; Colin & his American girls; and Daniel & Sam. Whew!
From my fellow authors at Kensington, you can look for subplots from:
Jen J. Danna in A Flame in the Wind of Death in her Abbott and Lowell mystery series and Pat Esden in A Hold on Me in her Dark Heart series.
I love to hear from readers.
Today’s Giveaway for three commenters:
The subplot in the first two books of the Husband Hunter series is the story of Nate Wilde, a man who’s escaped the darkest rookery in London, and Miranda Kirby, a shop girl with big dreams. Nate has been lurking in the margins of six books, waiting to become a hero. Tell me your favorite subplot in film or fiction to be entered in a drawing for a print copy of Nate’s first fictional appearance in To Tempt a Saint.