Subplots – adding texture to your novel

The other day I sat through a film featuring a subplot that had nothing whatever to do with the main thrust of the film. It didn’t reveal anything about the characters or the storyline, it didn’t hint at motivation, it wasn’t even a credible red herring. Completely irrelevant. I can’t even remember the title. However, it had an unexpected, but very useful consequence.

After the successful conclusion of an important subplot of my own, in which my mother in law was transferred to residential care when her dementia became too advanced to manage at home, I found myself with an unaccustomed amount of free writing time and not a word in my head. Tum-te-tumming at the keyboard I recalled the film with the inconsequential subplot and looked at it through the lens of my own perspective. What purpose should subplots serve in novels? Continue reading

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The Devil’s in the Detail

Over the past few weekends I’ve been mildly entertained by a neighbour’s attempts to cut down a tree in his garden. The tree was probably deserving of the treatment; it was a straggly old conifer that had overstayed its welcome but the whole felling procedure – and believe me, the production was worthy of Cecil B de Mille – got me thinking about familiar landmarks and how I can use them in my writing to add some individuality as well as colour, texture and even humour. They don’t need to be large or dramatic, in fact, for our purposes, small is definitely beautiful. It’s all in the detail. Here’s a selection of sights that are familiar to me and probably surround us all in some shape or other:

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