As I’m rewriting my mystery book, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. We all know it’s good to build depth to our characters and show them as real people with real issues that we all have in life. To write a book that is like real life should be the goal. We want our readers to feel like the story is really happening, or could happen as we write it.
Real life is a messy business. We all have issues to deal with on a daily basis and things that crop up and surprise us too. If we put our characters into some of these situations, we’re showing more about them and the real people they are underneath the persona they display to the public.
The subplots running under the main narrative make our characters real, believable people who are tackling their own demons as they solve the crisis going on in the main storyline.
Subplots work to make the story better in any genre. There are so many ideas to choose from, such as an impending divorce, turmoil on the home front, addiction, an old flame or enemy emerging on the scene, betrayal, revenge, an unpleasant discovery about someone the protagonist never really knew at all, or something else that would cause the hero internal conflict that interferes with the current problem.