Plot & Subplot – Two Sides of the Same Coin


Two Sides of the Coin

We all know that a story comprises of a plot and subplot. But what precisely is the relationship of one to the other? This is an important subject and one that warrants restating.

For the Love of Love

A useful way to see this relationship is to think of the plot as the outer journey the Hero undertakes in order to achieve the goal and save the day, and the subplot as the inner journey that unfolds in concert with it – in many ways the subplot provides some of the major motivation for the outer journey.

The Matrix

The Hero’s love interest, his/her relationship with friends and family, for example, provide some of the reasons the Hero typically risks life and limb to save the day. In The Matrix, Neo’s outer journey is to defeat these antagonistic forces that keep mankind slumbering in a false virtual world.

Neo’s inner journey is to realise that he is indeed the one person who can defeat the agents and machines and save mankind – a realisation that is a prerequisite for aquiring the power needed to perform this difficult task. His friendship with Morpheus and the rest of the crew, and the love he and Trinity feel for each other, personalise Neo’s outer journey and make it immediate.

Often, the inner and outer journeys intersect in one powerful scene. In The Matrix, Neo dies at the hands of agent Smith but is brought back to life through Trinity’s love for him – symbolised by a kiss.


The plot and subplot work together to create a cohesive story. The plot describes the outer journey while the subplot provides much of the motivation for it.


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4 thoughts on “Plot & Subplot – Two Sides of the Same Coin

  1. Becca J. Campbell

    Interesting take on plot/sub-plot. I enjoyed this, as I’ve never heard it described quite in that way. I’ll be analyzing all my stories now. 🙂

  2. Christina Carson (@CarsonCanada)

    An interesting way to explain the relationship of plot to subplot. I’m just sitting here mapping it against my own novel. Well done.


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