Welcome to 2015, everyone!
Today, I’d like to address a flaw I see all to often in fiction, even published fiction by successful authors, what I call one-legged plot resolutions.
Most everyone understands the basics behind a plot and its resolution. The plot is the main action of the story, which involves some sort of conflict between the protagonist and antagonist, and ultimately comes to a resolution through the climax. However, most stories also have a subplot, a plot that rides shotgun so to speak to the main plot. This one may be as riveting--you may even enjoy it more than the main plot--but it’s slightly less important than the main conflict. A proficient writer weaves the subplot into the main plot so they work off of each other.
But there’s a danger with subplots, and that’s where the one-legged plot resolution comes in. What many authors forget is that, for best impact, the subplot and the main plot need to be resolved in the climax as close together as possible. If the subplot is resolved beforehand, the story loses a lot of tension and thrust. Ideally, whatever resolves the subplot helps bring about the resolution of the main plot and the two are not mutually exclusive. But this can take some finesse on the storyteller’s part.
The best example of this problem is all those TV shows that resolve the romance long before the show’s ultimate finale. The vast majority of the time, especially if that romantic plot started at the beginning of the series, the series loses viewership and is usually cancelled by the next season. Romantic subplots are particularly susceptible to this danger.
So when it comes to outlining or revising your plot, find a way to resolve your subplot at the same time or as close as you can get to the main plot.
Happy New Year!