I’m working on a plot about two soldiers on the run trying to expose the corruption of a military organization. And to make it more realistic and get deeper into worldbuilding, I want to add a subplot about a journalist working on the same case and the two quests affecting each other (and eventually meeting).

Thing is, while I’m actually doing fine with the main plot I’m at a loss of how to incorporate the subplot smoothly and keep it relevant.

Is there one or more techniques that could help?

— Greg

Hi Greg,

What you’ve described isn’t actually a subplot; it’s another point-of-view character working on the same plot. A subplot might be if, for instance, one of the two soldiers on the run was also trying to discover their past or find a long-lost loved one. Having your separate POV character also deal with the same plot involving the corrupt military organization, as you’ve described, is definitely the right choice – with both a different character and a subplot, it would feel like two different stories. I also think having a journalist is a great choice that should make interaction pretty easy.

I’m assuming your soldiers are still more important than your journalist. So you’d open with your two soldiers making their initial escape, or something like that. Then in moving to your journalist for the first time (you want to do this in the beginning quarter or so of the story, when readers’ expectations are still being set for the book), your goals should be to inform readers how the journalist POV is connected to your soldiers ASAP. Your journalist may have heard about some incident involved in their escape, and their job is to investigate it.

Then you just keep looking for ways for the separate points of view to influence each other. When you switch to the journalist for the first time, you could reveal that the military organization is telling the press that the soldiers killed someone or committed another serious crime, something that will be important when you go back to the soldier viewpoint. If your journalist is investigating what happened to the soldiers or what the soldiers did, perhaps following their trail, your soldier viewpoint will automatically affect the journalist. In turn, the soldiers and the military organization can react to what the journalist has printed in the paper. Maybe the journalist finds something important the soldiers don’t know and prints it, allowing the soldiers to discover the information and perhaps even seek out the journalist to learn more. The military organization can respond to what’s in the press by switching tactics or putting pressure on the journalist to stop poking around.

Consider an additional meeting between the journalist and the soldiers before the journalist is sure they are the good guys. They can have a tense stand off where the soldiers tell their story and the journalist isn’t sure whether to believe it. They go their separate ways, and then the journalist finds out the soldiers were telling the truth. This way you can have them in a scene together before you’re ready for them to be on the same team.

I hope that gives you the ideas you need.

Happy writing!

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