At 6:48 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, on Wednesday, February 7, 2018, KR, SA and I called time on the plotting of Winter’s Thaw. Mind you, it has had a “plot” for a few years, but we decided to up the stakes, put more people in harm’s way, and call on the protagonists to do more and fight harder for truth, justice and, yes, the American way.

For fun, I Googled on “plotting a novel.” I got 1,310,000 links in 0.6 seconds. You know what? I’m not going to look at those.

The outline I’ve developed for this book (with input from KR and SA) is now 20 pages and, after I add in the last of the plot elements we agreed on, it will be more. After this, no more outlining, just writing, editing, re-writing, re-editing, etc. etc. All aimed at getting Winter’s Thaw published late this year. Later than we’d hoped, but 2018 is a worthy goal.

My new mantra:

We can fix, polish and perfect later.

And, no more of this, guys:

But, what about sub-plotting? Oh, Lord. [Google: 614,000 hits in 0.63 seconds. I looked at the first one.]

Wikipedia — In fiction, a subplot is a secondary strand of the plot that is a supporting side story for any story or the main plot. Subplots may connect to main plots, in either time and place or in thematic significance. Subplots often involve supporting characters, those besides the protagonist or antagonist.

Subplots are distinguished from the main plot by taking up less of the action, having fewer significant events occur, with less impact on the “world” of the work, and occurring to less important characters.

Have we got that? I believe we do …

Frankly, I’m going to let KR and SA worry about the subplots, okay? But, just in case they need some inspiration, I like this article from Writer’s Digest. In it, Elizabeth Sims likens weaving subplots into the main plot of a novel to weaving fabric. This is not really a new metaphor to you or to us, but it is one she has second-hand, personal experience with – fabric weaving, I mean.

She says, “Think of subplots as simply strands of stories that support or drive the main plot. With subplots—and the secondary characters who populate them—you can:

  • Advance your story in satisfying increments.
  • Unleash transformative forces on your main characters: growth or corruption, gain or loss.
  • Reveal information to your main characters or to the reader.
  • Pivot your action, provide twists.
  • Speed up or slow down your story’s pace.
  • Induce mood: menace, comedy, pathos, triumph.
  • Patch holes in (or solve other problems with) your main plot. [Are you paying attention, KR? SA? I mean, just in case …]
  • Insert—or, even better, challenge!—a moral lesson.”

Ms. Sims continues, “Subplots bring realism to your main plot simply by existing—by interrupting the flow. Why is this? Because life doesn’t move forward all at once. Interruptions happen, change rushes in, we juggle three or 10 balls at once. Readers don’t expect continuous narratives. They don’t expect monofilament, so to speak.”

Is that true, readers? Do you like the unexpected little diversions of the subplots woven in among the main progress of the action and main characters? Or do you pass over the side shows and head straight to the Big Tent?

Lest I get too sedentary, Fergus interrupts me throughout the day, bringing me toys to throw and making me get up and chase him around the house to capture the treasure he’s carrying in his mouth. After a rousing game of keep-away or pig-and-dragon, he’s out like a light and snoring, and I’m back to work on Winter’s Thaw. It will happen. We promise.

Playing is hard work, right Fergus?