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The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd Edition by Writer's Digest Writer's Digest Editors

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Chapter Ten

Supporting Stories

Adding Depth to Your Story Through Subplots

Jessica Page Morrell

Subplots are miniature stories woven into the main story, complete and intriguing in their own right, serving to contrast, reinforce, or divert attention from the main plot. These mini plots contain beginnings, middles, and ends, and support the protagonist’s emotional growth, further the dramatic action, and reflect or echo the significance of theme and premise.

Subplots can be centered on main characters in actions that fall outside of the main storyline, or they can be centered on secondary characters. Sometimes a combination of both is used. These stories-within-stories can run the entire length of the plot and be resolved near or in the climax, ...

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