There are multiple reasons why subplots can be just as important to a story as the main plot. For one subplots can give insights to the reader/viewer about the world, the characters, and certain events that happen throughout the plot of the story. Subplots can also act as a reminder that the main plot is never really the whole story. The final reason I’ll write about is that subplots can beef up and lengthen an otherwise short story. If you feel like something is missing from your story try adding a subplot. It may help.
Now if you want to write a good subplot treat it like a main plot. That is how its going to feel like to the characters who have something to do the subplot so don’t treat it like something happening to the side. Here’s an example. At the beginning of Star Wars: A New Hope the Rogue One team steals the plans to the Death Star and sends them to Princess Leia. She then gives them to R2-D2 who is told to look for Obi wan Kenobi. Until she first meets Luke everything that happens to her is part of the subplot. Getting the plans to the right people is just as important as Luke learning about his force powers, leaving his home, and blowing up the Death Star. In the scenes where only Leia is present she is technically the protagonist and all the important stuff is happening around her. To her all the stuff happening with Luke is the subplot until the two characters meet.
One more tip, if you are going to add subplots to your story you need to remember to bring everything together during the conclusion because even though each subplot is technically its own story its still a subplot and it needs to connect to the main plot at some point. If you have subplots just floating there unconnected to anything there will be no point in even having those subplots. If you want to write a story focusing on a character other than the protagonist that doesn’t relate directly to the story write a different story. Don’t just add it to the story you’re currently writing as a subplot unless it relates to the main plot.
Death flags occur in a story when it becomes obvious to the reader/viewer/player which character is going to die next. They are only found in stories where at least a few characters are killed off. They can be easily avoided however. The most frequently occurring death flag is a sudden info dump regarding a particular character’s backstory. This is done to increase the impact of their death, however if it’s too obvious the reader/viewer/gamer will brace for impact and the impact will be greatly lessened because of it.
This is why instead of giving the majority of a character’s backstory right before they die, give it gradually up until the death. Then it will be as sudden and impactful as you want it to be. Of course there are other death flags (ie red shirts) but they can easily be avoided by simply not killing off similar characters over and over again. You need variety.
When writing a novel for NaNoWriMo you may want to write as fast as you possibly can to finish all 50,000 words by the end of the month. Don’t do that. Instead write at your own pace. You only need to write a total of 1,667 words per day. You may think that forcing yourself to write faster is a good thing but the thing you need to remember is that the faster you write the faster you will start to feel tired. If you’re already a fast writer than that’s fine, but even if you can only write 30 words per minute if you are on a roll it will only take you a little less than an hour to reach 1,667 for the day. Even if you can only write 10 words per minute you will still finish in a little under two and a half hours. You can do it. Also if you’re unable to write a single word in several minutes take a break. Freely thinking may help with writer’s block.
Here’s a list of things you may find useful to have nearby as you are writing your novel.
- Reference notes – These can either be written before you start writing your novel or during. Reference notes allow you to keep descriptions consistent throughout the entire story making the editing process at least somewhat easier later on. Every time you find yourself describing something new add it to your notes.
- Dictionary/Thesaurus – because you never know when you may need either one. You don’t need physical copies, you can also use google or phone apps.
- Open NaNoWriMo Website – If you are planning on writing the minimum amount of words per day for NaNoWriMo you will find the novel stats page to be very helpful since there’s a graph that shows you whether or not you are going at a good pace and that general stats section tells you how much you have written that day. Also keeping the page open means that you can update your wordcount more frequently which is not needed but makes it so you are less likely to update your wordcount later.
- Something to Backup your Novel on – One thing you do not want is to be almost done writing the first draft of your novel when your file becomes corrupted or your computer dies causing you to lose all your work. To prevent the loss of all your work back it up using a program such as Google Drive or by using an external hard drive or USB stick. Just a quick warning, do not write your novel on a file already on a USB stick. The more times you insert one into a USB drive the more likely it is that the files on it will become corrupted. I know this from personal experience. Safely removing USB sticks only makes this less likely to happen.
- Food/drink – You want to stay both nourished and hydrated while you are writing. Make sure you have at least some water on hand as well as something small to eat.
I would consider any creature who is not humanoid and has less than human intelligence to be an animal. Of course there are some exceptions to this. There are some mythical creatures with human intelligence (at least most of the time) which are often called beasts or animals. I will not be writing about these creatures in this post. The only creatures I’ll be writing about are creatures that rely a lot on instinct, have no culture of their own, and have no cohesive language that you can translate.
The interesting thing about writing animals as the monster in a story is the fact that they can often not be reasoned with. You can’t talk a raging bull out of chasing after people, all you can do is run. Another thing to remember is that you can make your audience feel empathy toward the creature if something was done to them to make them go crazy such as abuse. Of course you could just make your creature a natural predator of people which will make your audience feel happy when it dies instead of sad.
For this I’ll be focusing on two websites you can use to help you build your world. There are many more out there, and there are even more cellphone apps with the sole purpose of helping you build your worlds. Search world building in your app store to find some of these. I actually used one in the past and it worked pretty well, it was just on my phone which I didn’t like much. You can also just google world building apps.
The first website I’ll be writing about is Inkarnate. You can use this website to make maps for your world. It is really easy to use though if you want a realistic looking world you will need some practise. The maps made on Inkarnate look really good and there is now a commercial license you can get if you want to use inkarnate maps in books and games. Just a quick warning, don’t make a map and leave it without finishing it. There are occasionally changes which can make it so you can never finish your maps. These changes are related to the format of maps.
The other website is Notebook.ai. This is a website you can use to organize all your worldbuilding. It gives you a bunch of things you can add to your world such as characters, locations, items, magic, and religion. You can make a universe and connect all these things to that universe. When you click on a universe it brings you to a page with everything you have created for that universe. It’s really easy to use and you can use it’s Premium version for free all through October, but it’s online so you may not want to keep all your world building on it. Also I wish you could change the pictures used to differentiate between each category.
I would count faeries, angels, demons, yokai, and any other spiritual creature as otherworldly creatures. Otherworldly creatures tend to not understand a lot of things that go on in human society because in their own worlds those things either didn’t happen at all or were done in a completely different way. An example of this is the exchange of this is money. An otherworldly creature may not know what it is at first and will probably continue not understanding it even after they’ve learned what it is because there was no such thing in their own world.
They don’t have to literally be from an entirely different world, they can be otherworldly in a more metaphorical sense. For instance a moose with human intelligence could technically be classified as otherworldly because it would understand nothing about human society.
One thing to remember when writing otherworldly creatures into your world is that you should be respectful of the cultures of other people while you do it. Also do your research if you’re using creatures that already exist because it may give you inspiration.