Nancy Sondel's Pacific Coast Children's Writers Workshop
16th Annual    September 28-30, 2018    Master Class to Masterpiece
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2007 Focus Session

SUBPLOTS AND SECONDARY CHARACTERS

Exercises by renowned children’s authors Barbara Shoup, Elaine Marie Alphin and Nancy Lamb are sprinkled throughout these pages. Many will be integrated into the workshop.

Musings from Novelist Barbara Shoup

Barbara Shoup, co-author
Novel Ideas: Contemporary
Authors Share the Creative
Process
(Alpha Books)
Barbara Shoup, faculty author, poses critical homework questions which we’ll explore at our workshop:

1. Which storyline is my main plot; which is a (less-weighty) subplot?
2. How can subplots enrich my novel without diluting the focus and tension?
3. How do I weave my main plot and subplot(s) together? How do my secondary character(s) and subplot(s) move the story forward— illuminating readers’ understanding of the main character and main plot?
4. If I removed a secondary character and/or subplot, would the novel still work? The answer to this question must be “No way!”

With four published novels, Shoup’s insight derives from experience. She suggests: “Ask ‘What if?’ when you can’t imagine some part of the story—and every time you get stuck... this question often leads to ideas for subplots and secondary characters that may never have occurred to you. Always remain open to possibilities—stay fluid!”

Shoup’s individually-tailored “What If?” exercise is included in our 2007 workshop homework. To read more of Shoup’s “novel ideas,” click here for her PCCWW interview.

Some writers have too many ideas, rather than too few. We’ll also explore this dilemma at our workshop. To preview (and try) more sample exercises, click here for SECONDARY CHARACTERS; click here for SUBPLOTS.

Snatch what’s helpful to you... then join us at the workshop!

“Important secondary characters should have a Desire.” — Brandilyn Collins,
Getting into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors

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