How to Add a Romantic Subplot

If your story is lacking depth and layers you may need to add a subplot or two to it. What is a subplot? A subplot is a smaller plot line that works alongside your main plot line. The most common subplot is the romantic subplot or love interest. But this subplot should add dimensionality to your story. So how do we go about that?

To write a good love subplot it first has to be believable. It’s all about the characters and how they react to each other. Would these two people fall in love in real life? Is there any chemistry between them or are you as an author forcing them together? How do they get from introduction to real romantic feelings? Show their natural progression and their emotional journey. Remember that this is a subplot (unless you are writing a romance) so you don’t want to devote too much page time to this. A few impactful scenes is enough.

No relationship is perfect. There will be and should be obstacles to their love. Obstacles should be both external and internal. Does he have a character flaw that’s preventing him from opening up to her? Do her parents oppose the match? Give them problems and show them dealing with them.

Make sure both characters are fully fleshed out and dynamic. Meaning they have a goal, have agency, and react to what happens in the plot. You don’t want the love interest to exist just to be the love interest and you don’t want them to be a cardboard cutout. Develop both of them and have them affect your main plot.

Make them friends first. This goes along with the natural progression of the relationship but also helps keep readers from getting fed up with romantic scenes. Your two characters won’t always be making out or being sickly sweet to each other as they profess their feelings. Have them do normal stuff and acting as the friends they should be as well. They should like each other as much as they love each other.

Watch for clichés. Be well read to keep up with what’s commonly used as a romantic trope and what is overdone. Don’t let the love interest fix every problem the protagonist has. Real relationships don’t work this way and it’s boring as well as unrealistic. Also, make sure your characters don’t turn into completely different people around each other. They shouldn’t have to change to be together. And give them reasons to be together besides looks. Make their relationship genuine.

That should give you a good idea for how love subplots work. What are your tips for writing a romantic subplot? Share below and happy writing.


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Using Subplot to Deepen Your Story

Alongside our main plot, subplots help to deepen our stories, either by contrasting or echoing the main plot and its themes. They can provide much needed relief or tension and help to shape your main plot. So what do we need to know about them? Let’s take a look.

Like your main plot, subplots have a setup, rising action, a climax, and an ending that should be wrapped up before your main plot’s resolution. Subplots should also have a character who pursues a goal and faces obstacles and conflict because of that pursuit. Make your subplots strong and plan them beforehand, like you would do for your main plot.

If your story is highly dramatic, use a comedic subplot to give readers a break. Use subplot to build tension and suspense, or to relieve it depending on your main plot. You can do this by delaying information about the main plot to add to the suspense or by taking the reader away from the main action as a break from the main plot’s tension.

Subplots can echo the theme of the main plot, adding depth and complexity to your story. They can also test your character’s morality and strength as they try to achieve their goal. And subplots can be used for further characterization or to develop side characters.

Don’t have too many subplots going on in one story. Up to two is a good rule to follow before your story and your readers get overwhelmed.

The love interest is the most common subplot used, but showing character growth, giving the character flaws like addiction, or showing obstacles for the protagonist to overcome are a few other subplots you can use. These all help to further characterization and reader’s understanding of your characters. They can also add to the themes of your story.

Which subplots do you like writing best? Share your comments below and, as always, happy writing!


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