Tag Archives: removing subplots

Thoughts on Writing – Subplots and End Scenes

Isaac has finished writing the rough draft of Trials of Blood and Steel, and I’m about half-way through editing his draft (with plans to go back at the halfway point and start polishing, that way we can start releasing episodes), so Isaac is now working on the little segments that go at the end of each episode.

We’ve been calling these segments end caps (a cross between recap and end of the scene? I’m not sure how we started calling it this), but I realized that wasn’t the actual name for those scenes. Did a bit of research, and they aren’t exactly a post-credits scene/stinger (they don’t come after the “credits,” just at the end of the episode, and they aren’t a teaser, since they come at the end of the episode rather than at the beginning. They also aren’t finales or cappers or endgames, per Merriam-webster.com.

So… I’m still not sure what to call these segments.

For now I’ll call them end scenes (though even that isn’t technically correct, per this site).

Anyway, our goal is to have a small scene at the end of each episode which provides a bit of extra background without being required for the main plot. Preferably, it will be something that makes readers wonder what’s going to happen next, and how this scene will get tangled into the main story.

For example, this is one of the end scenes (Still semi-rough), which references a carrier pigeon that was set loose earlier that episode:

Miles into its flight, the pigeon reached the border of the northern Prussian forest. The bird flapped tirelessly, trained for such flights, though it planned to take a food-break once it reached the other side.

Or it would have had a break, if it had made it that far.

A pair of glowing gold eyes spotted the pigeon from the ground, waited until the bird was within range, then lifted its rifle, sighted the target, and fired.

The shot echoed across the trees, but due to a slight miscalculation in wind speed, the bullet only clipped the bird’s wing. The pigeon faltered, but it had been trained as an elite war bird. It compensated for its broken wing, angling its beak and tail feathers in its best attempt to direct its plummet away from its assailant. The wind coasted under its good wing, and the bird directed its dive into the thicker part of the nearby woods.

The marksman waited as the bird disappeared into the trees. Despite being ordered to retrieve the bird, it turned around on its spiny legs and began its trek back to camp. The bird had fallen into the Deep.

The Deep… even in the marksman’s strained memory… resonated with its core and sent a tingle of fear through its metallic body.

Despite being a small part of the woods, no one who entered the Deep ever came out.

The goal of this scene is to raise the stakes (an important message has now been delayed), to set up the strange, metallic marksmen (which will become a major foe later), and to do the first foreshadowing of the Deep (which our heroes will encounter very soon).

Technically speaking, this scene isn’t absolutely necessary to the main plot.

It does raise the stakes, but if we remove this from the story, the rest of the plot would still make sense, though we might lose some of the richness.

This is, effectively, a subplot.

One of the interesting things about watching Isaac add the end scenes after writing all of the other episodes is seeing how they effectively develop into a subplot (mostly detailing what the bad guys are up to).

Not only that, but the end scenes significantly boost the word count.

Something to keep in mind if you have a bare-bones story that you want to develop further–or need to increase the word count of–is that you can add subplots.

Are there any plot threads that readers might find interesting that add to the story?

On the other hand, if you need to reduce your word count, cutting a subplot may be the way to go, particularly if there’s a thread that slows things down rather than keeps the pace moving. (If you need a breather, a subplot may be a nice way to release tension).

The next decision Isaac and I need to make is whether to have these end scenes be a separate post of their own, so it’s clear that they don’t have to be read for the main story to make sense (though I certainly enjoy them), or whether to include them at the end of the episode, perhaps with a telling Meanwhile… to denote that these are something separate from the main story.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful. 🙂 Have any thoughts about subplots you’ve found to be effective or ineffective?


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