So Much Promise
A few weeks back I was watching a pretty good movie. It had a great plot involving a robbery gone bad. It began with a chase, fun dialog and, unfortunately for the robbers, death.
Curious as to why they would kill off all the stars so close to the beginning I was pleasantly surprised at the spin of the plot where their wives picked up the slack and finished the job.
For about 45 minutes the story ran a straight line. It was solid with the protagonist, the antagonist and the side characters committed to one goal.
In a nutshell it was super cool fun.
But just as I was about to place this in my favorite movie of the year category it all came crashing down and for the remaining hour and twenty minutes it turned into a shell of what it started out to be.
What caused the wheels to come off and turn a memorable storyline into a forgettable one?
Three Words: Too Many Subplots.
How Writers Mess Up
Subplots are important to every story. We need them. We write them. The reader wants them. We also need spices for our tasty dish. But what happens when you add too much garlic?
You get the idea.
The movie in question began to add layers upon layers of subplots. So much so that it caused me to forget the actual plot. It was as though a new team of writers came in and ruined the original idea.
Remember the Audience
As a story teller we must constantly remind ourselves we are here to entertain not to hand down layers upon layers of messages.
I’m guilty of adding way to many subplots when I began a story but I’m fine with that. In fact I want to. But as the rewrites begin so do the killing of my darlings.
Anytime I watch a movie or read a book containing endless subplots I am always frustrated. Especially if I see potential.
I encourage all of us to toss our subplots against the wall and see which ones will stick. A writer who listens to their characters and follows the path of their story will choose the ones that work.
There has to be a balance and the focus of the plot has to be clear.
The last thing you want is a person like me turning away from an excellent beginning. We all know how disappointed one can be when seeing such a promise turn into a mountain of goo.