Saturday, August 9, 2014

Plots and Subplots

This past week I watched a movie which shall be nameless (and is NOT the one pictured above), but one of the subplots really had me going WTF ...early in the movie, a certain character who is apparently an acquiring editor (AcqEd) for a  traditional publisher, invites an unpublished author to her office so she can personally tell this poor person the company won't publish her unsolicited book and two sentences of why. Over the course of the movie these two ladies become more or less friends (too many other subplots to share here, trust me). So upon visiting the author's house, the AcqEd sees a new manuscript lying on the coffee table and takes it. Steals it, basically.

Close to the end of the movie, when all subplots are wrapping up - not sure this movie had a big plot actually - the Acq Ed hands the author a final edition of of her second book, looking as if it was ready to go on the shelf  in stores, with a fancy colorful hard cover, decorative dust jacket and all. "We're publishing your book," she says in triumph. Author is clearly astounded, didn't even know the manuscript was missing, cries with joy, is congratulated by all the other subplot people because She Will Be Set For Life Now after publishing one book (I was totally rolling on the floor at that point) and everyone goes off into the sunset...

I clicked the TV off, sat there and said WHAT?! AcqEd stole the book from the woman's house, it wasn't submitted, it could have been an early draft...for all the AcqEd and we know, the book had been subbed to some other publisher by now... no contract was ever signed or even discussed by AcqEd, there was no editing process, no copy editing...umm, guys, it TOTALLY doesn't work this way. Not even in an author's dreams, I don't think! I certainly want to go over a few legalities before Ms. AcqEd (who had moved to a new publishing house by the way and took the stolen book with her) merrily has a big print run issued and shipped to the stores.  I want editing, I want to discuss the audiobook, foreign and movie righst this subplot DID NOT WORK FOR ME.

If you're going to do subplots, make sure they're believable in whatever world the story has been placed. And if you don't know much about that world yourself (as obviously this movie's scriptwriters didn't, or else they had a LOT of wish fulfillment going on), do research, talk to people who are doctors, archaeologists, police, SEALs....editors at publishing houses....

Now I was fine with how publishing is portrayed in "Romancing the Stone," which is and ever shall be one of my favorite movies....but I digress...

So in my books I don't consciously do subplots, at least not as I've always defined them. My hero and heroine go on their adventure and a lot of things happen, but I don't have additional couples also doing a separate, or even vaguely related arc that all ties up together at the end of the book. One of my favorite Georgette Heyer novels, Cotillion, comes to mind. That book makes me laugh out loud at certain points. So many machinations by several sets of would-be lovers!

I do what Fellow Whore James defined in his post on Monday, which is to have a lot of things happening and having a bearing on what's going on with the main characters though.

I think my life has subplots but that's another blog post entirely...


  1. And now I want to know 'what movie' because I haven't seen that one yet and from the sounds of it, I want to avoid wasting my time. I can't even watch Castle because the premise irritates me. (Hubs stopped on it once and said 'What's this?' and I said, 'We don't watch that'. Silly, I know, but :shrug:) And yet, I love Romancing the Stone. Go figure.

    1. Me too on wanting to know!

      But the Castle thing, B.E.? I'm sorry. We can't be friends anymore.

  2. I knew I was in trouble plotwise when the AcqEd invited the unknown, aspiring author to her office to explain why they weren't publishing her unsolicited manuscript LOL. Yeah, that happens everyday.....not.

  3. Excellent post. I am also experiencing a few of these issues as well, but now I have got some ideas. Thanks I am extremely impressed with your do my paper for me writing skills as well as with the layout of your blog.