I'm writing a novel where I imagined two or three subplots (or storylines). Now I found that one of the subplots has evolved and grown so big that It can be an independant plot itself and could (or could not) lead to another novel.

It's a bit annoying for me, because now I have to decide whether I have to separate this subplot from the first novel (removing a layer of narrative) to write another one (which actually would be a short-story) or just let it and use it to enrich my novel.

Any advice on what I should do to decide would be welcomed.

3 Answers 3


Subplots are generally thematically related to the main plot. They provide thematic elaboration or counterpoint to the theme of the main plot. If your subplots are doing that for you main plot, then they are enriching the reader's experience and they should stay. If they are just more business, then they should go. (Whether that is to another work of not is a different question entirely.)

  • I don't know. To be more specific, this subplot is kind of paralleling the main plot, it's about the MC interest about something. As the story advances, this interest grows and spirals into obsession. Altough it (maybe) adds something about the MC psychology, it isn't strictly necessary to the story.
    – Koblenz
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 21:54

Let me remind me you that your final novel does not need to include every bit of information you have compiled. The fact that you have additional information (like backstory) is beneficial to your novel even if you don't include it, simply because it's going to allow you to do a better work rounding up your characters. Thus, even if you don't include it, that extra work is not lost.

What I would do in this case: I would concentrate on the main plot and include only as much of the subplot in question as is necessary to enrich the main plot. Later, when a complete draft you like is finished, you can still decide whether to include more of that subplot or not, depending on the total length. What you don't get to use of the subplot doesn't need to be published right away. Just keep it in your drawer until there's a suitable occasion to use it. Who knows what the future holds!


If timing of the event permits, that's an excellent opportunity to create a hook for a sequel. Trim the plot to "slim" level in your current novel, close the two other plots properly, leave the third plot at a key point, and migrate all the rest to the sequel.

This won't be possible if a late point of the "big" plot is essential to the resolution of the current novel. In that case you will need to carry it through... or split your novel into a trilogy: part 1: introduce and expand all three plots, part 2: "the big plot" nearly to resolution, part 3: bring back two remaining plots and bring the grand finale.

Regardless, yes, if one plot totally dominates the story, to the point that the others can't get enough spotlight time, but show up rarely, it becomes frustrating. It's definitely better to isolate it some way, so that there's a clear segment where it's the only plot, and a clear segment where all plots get the same level of attention.

  • It's not a novel that I imagine having a sequel. So, this subplot have to be in this story or be a new story itself. These are my only two choices.
    – Koblenz
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 21:56
  • You can then split the novel into 3 or so "parts" / "acts", all a single volume. See "cut" and "continuity" in this answer. All threads within an act should receive roughly the same amount of focus. If this is the only thread of act 2, you can put all other threads on bylines until act 3.
    – SF.
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 1:05

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