Cutting Subplots

The close kin to cutting scenes, is cutting subplots. It can be just as painful, after all, we tend to fall in love with our flights of fancy. My checklist for cutting my subplot is fairly similar to cutting scenes. However I have one additional tool for cutting subplots that I haven't mentioned up to this point, my spreadsheet. Now, I will have another set of blog posts during #Preptober later this year, and I will explore the ins and outs of the spreadsheet better. Right now I'm just going to sum it up, and how I use it cut out subplots that don't work.

My spreadsheets look a little bit like this:

Scene Name  l Characters Present  l Setting  l Plot A l Plot B l Plot C l ...
                      l                                 l              l             l            l flying dragon dives, hurts antagonist l     

Now if Plot C isn't working for me, I just open up my spreadsheet, read which scenes have Plot C aspects in them, and then I cut it out. This is the fastest and most thorough way I know to cut out a subplot. Sure the flying dragon was a great idea, but I have no idea how that showed up in my spy thriller. Flying dragon, separate book. And that's the way it goes. It does take rewriting all of those scenes, but it means you can do it scene by scene and not chapter by chapter from your notes.

But this can also be done in your outline, it's a little bit harder, but it can be done. Just pull it up and cross out the scene, or the subplot demarked in the scene. Do it right away, that way, it becomes part of the "To Be Fixed" list.

I know it can be hard to cut this kind of thing out, but in the end, it's better for your story. That should be your guiding light, what is in the best interests of your story. Do what makes the story tighter, or more exciting, or easier to read, or more satisfying for the reader. Do what makes your characters grow. Stop the boring. Make it better. Keep going. Do it once, do it twice, do it six times. Just keep going until it is time to send it out to the beta readers.

What have you found hard about cutting out a subplot? Let me know in the comments below. 


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