Now that I’ve started working on a novel, I’m finding myself paying close attention to plots and subplots in what I read. My favorite form is when they all explore the same theme. The main character has to find a way to accomplish a dishonorable task in an honorable way. The main character has to get beyond the same she feels about her station in life (something she cannot control). The main character has to learn to deal with Character X who treats her with honor – something that is, sadly, new to her. The main character has to decide if she will dishonor another character who has dishonored her. All of the strands are about honor.
Other books have a plot and subplots but while the same characters are involved, and the main character is always central, there is no common theme. A murder has been committed and the main character has to catch the killer. The main character has to reconcile her love of truth with her need to lie while undercover. There may also be a romance subplot.
Some books feature a group of characters trying to solve a mystery with subplots that feature each individual character. One may be trying to break away from dealing drugs. Another is working to repair his relationship with his girlfriend. One girl is coping with an eating disorder.
What version am I going to use? I’m going for all of the plots and subplots mirroring the same theme. I’m exploring trust and honor. But the book is a mystery so the strongest theme will be that crime doesn’t pay. These are my hopes for the future. The current draft? If I can get my character through the mystery and the romance subplot I’ll be happy.