Plot and Supblot

17th September 2021
3 min read
5th January 2022

Take a closer look at plots and subplots in this writing exercise from Linda Strachan's Guide to Writing for Children & YA

Guide to Writing for Children & YA

Look at a children’s book that you have enjoyed and is of similar length to the one you are writing.

See if you can take apart the layout of the plot (this can be useful practice for getting to grips with writing a synopsis and analysing your own writing structure).

Where does the story begin? What are the main plot points?

Here is a very simple example using Cinderella and a subplot of the ugly sisters ’story. The plot is in roman type, and the subplot in italics.

Once you've read the example, it's your turn!


● Cinderella’s father dies and she is miserable and her wicked stepmother takes over house making her a servant.

Her stepsisters look for ways to make her life a misery, taking her things and making her work for them in the house.

● Cinderella meets the Prince by chance, they are drawn to each other.

The stepsisters hear the Prince is looking for a bride and squabble over which of them will marry him.

● Her stepmother tells Cinderella she is not allowed to go to the ball and has to work in the kitchen.

The stepsisters tell Cinderella to make them dresses for the ball so she has no time to make one for herself, even if she could go.

● Cinderella is making a mess of the dresses but her Fairy Godmother arrives and, using magic, finishes the stepsisters ’ dresses for her.

The stepsisters tell Cinderella the beautiful dresses are only just suitable and leave her in the kitchen as they head for the ball determined to win the Prince.

● The Fairy Godmother arranges for Cinderella to go to the ball. She creates a beautiful dress, carriage etc.

The stepsisters try to woo the prince and when Cinderella arrives, no one recognises her.

● The Prince has eyes for no one but Cinderella.

Her stepsisters are being ignored; they are jealous and angry at the new arrival.

● Cinderella has to leave at midnight and loses one of her glass slippers.

Her stepsisters find Cinderella’s other glass slipper, break it and throw it away.

● The Prince searches for a foot to fit the tiny glass slipper

The stepsisters lock Cinderella up and fight to try on the Prince’s glass slipper and break it.

● Cinderella escapes, the Prince recognises her and asks her to marry him.

Cinderella tells her stepmother and stepsisters they can live and work in the palace.

● Cinderella and the Prince live happily ever after.


Linda Strachan is the author of over 70 books. She writes for a wide range from picture books to Young Adult novels. These include the bestselling Hamish McHaggis series and award-winning Spider, Dead Boy Talking and Don’t Judge Me. Linda is a former Chair of the Society of Authors in Scotland and an experienced creative writing tutor.

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