Friday, August 3, 2018

Deborah Halverson's Breakout on Subplot and Subtext

Deborah Halverson

Deborah Halverson is the award-winning author of Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies and Writing New Adult Fiction, the teen novels Big Mouth and Honk If You Hate Me, the picture book Letters to Santa, and three books in the Remix series for struggling readers. Formerly an editor at Harcourt Children’s Books, Deborah is now a freelancer specializing in young adult/middle grade fiction, new adult fiction, and picture books. She is also the founder of the popular writers’ advice site

Deborah calls it "Power writing," when we boost our main storyline with subplot and subtext.

Some definitions:

subplot: minor storylines that compliment the main plot, adding depth and texture to the overall story

subtext: sometimes you want to say the opposite of what you mean

Deborah walks us through some problems that subplot and subtext can fix.

If you're hearing feedback like:

Your Plot is predictable:

Design the main plotline to require someone or something from the subplot to achieve final resolution.

Readers aren't connecting with your Characters:

Reveal fears, dreams, themes through subtext.

Info-Delivery issues:

Write character interaction scenes that crackle with subtext to distract readers from info-delivery about how the world looks and works, and about the plot events and character backstories.
I'll share one more,

A Lull in Storytelling:

You can escalate a subplot when the main plot needs a bit of a breather.

There's lots more problem solving, and examples shared, including Mercy on These Teenage Chimps by Gary Soto, A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban, and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

It's a breakout session that is packed with attendees, and packed with great information!

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