Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why Writers Should Read with Karen Kingsbury

The wind picked up during one of our camping trips blowing the rain protector off our tent. We needed to tie it down tighter. To grab a single-thread string would have been foolish.  However, using a three ply rope provided strength to weather the storm.

When I think of the best stories, I realize each has more than one subplots running through the book. These mini stories give strength and power to the book, helping the main plot to weather the distractible reader.

For this two-week reading challenge I read Forgiven by Karen Kingsbury. She masterfully wove subplots into her story creating an amazing depth and holding my attention.

A sub plot has certain components. All the pieces need to weave together with the main story. In a way, the perfect blend of subplot with main story is like this picture of DNA below. Each unique but related subplot twines around a main story connecting where needed. Here is what Kingsbury did in her story Forgiven:

Main plot:  Katy Hart-Midwest homespun gal who met Dayne on a one-time adventure to Hollywood.  Her town is exited about the movie crew coming to town.

Thread one: Dayne-Hollywood hunk actor. Adopted by missionary couple, grew up in a MK boarding school. Filming next movie in midwest.

Thread two: Ashley Baxter Blake-Kate's best friend. Went to Paris as a young adult, came home with a child. She is concerned about her father and a secret he seems to have.

Thread three: John Baxter-lonely since his wife's death. Can't bring himself to read letters written by his wife. He kept them hidden in the box. Ashley visits with her son one day and discovers a letter . . . with  a family secret.

1. All sub plots must be related to the main plot: Without giving a spoiler I can at least tell you these clues. Katy is the main character. Although she moved back to her home town she never forgot Dayne. Ashley supports Katy through a tragedy at the hometown theater. I can't say more. You'll have to trust me when I say John's issue is directly linked to Katy as well.

2. Weave the subplots: To focus on one sub plot then hop to the main plot and etc is not good. The strength in anything woven is continuously working in all the threads to form a solid work.

3. Rabbit trails are not allowed. Don't get caught up in developing the sub plot. We didn't need to know the Ashley's story in Paris. To develop the Paris story would take away from the main plot.

4. Leaving Tassels/fringes are allowed in a series: While Katy's story came to a conclusion, The three threads left openings for future story lines. Kingsbury did this as a teaser for the rest of the series. If the book is not part of a series, smaller issues can be left to the reader to decide. Most important, bring the main plot to a satisfying conclusion.

By weaving subplots around the main plot your story gains a super strength to make it memorable.

What subplot comes to your mind, either in a book you read or wrote. How did it help strengthen the main plot?

Are you interested in joining me for the next two week reading challenge? Let me know. Those who have in the past enjoy emailing throughout the time.


photo courtesy of and

This blog post is by Mary Vee
Mary lives in Montana with her husband and loves to hear from her three college kids. She writes contemporary Christian fiction and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories.

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Julia M. Reffner said...


This is awesome! I love your drawing! Visuals put things into such perspective. I love your example that we can learn from everything we're reading.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Thanks, Julia.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Mary. Subplots--adding depth to the story. You did a great job pulling them out and explaining the value of subplots.

I appreciate the specific things to consider when adding a subplot to the story!

Well done, Mary. :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Thanks, Jeanne.
See yah during this next challenge:)
I bought my next book last night. Can't wait.