subplots-how many is too many?

by Terrell
(Columbia, MO)

Hello, I'm back again and my question is a focus on subplots. How many subplots are acceptable in novels? Will too many get confusing? Is there a such thing as too many? Thank you again, this website is amazing.


Answer: I think you have to ask yourself what function the subplots serve. Often they are they to explore issues or points of view that are difficult to fully explore in the main plot. Sometimes they are there to flesh out minor characters, to explain the causes of their actions or how they became the person they are.

If a subplot serves no purpose or is redundant, there's no need to include it. If leaving it out creates a hole in the plot that begs to be filled, then include it.

The rule of thumb is to tell what needs to be told, and no more.

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